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Ratings and Book Reviews (12 43 star ratings
12 reviews
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Overall rating

4.6 out of 5
43
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  • 1 person found this review helpful

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    Loved everything but the ending

    What a moving, emotional, and beautiful story! I’m not sure what exactly I was expecting when I began this book but I promise you, it was far more than anything I could have dreamed. Ten years ago Annika was finally finding a way to live her life as normally as possible. It wasn’t perfect by everyone else’s standards, but with the help of her roommate she began to acclimate to a world she was unprepared for. Having been the subject of bullying and emotional taunts, even from those she thought she could trust, she finds it difficult to rely on her own impressions of the people around her. Namely, Jonathan who has insinuated himself first into her chess club and now into her life. Jonathan was everything sweet and kind, patient and loving and exactly what Annika needed. He fights with a gentle ferocity to get through to her and is rewarded with her heart. But when the unthinkable happens and Annika falls into a dark place, he is left with his own broken dreams. This story was so incredibly moving. So much so that I can’t find the words to adequately describe it. The author takes us through this couple’s first meeting to their reunion years later with all the angst and heartache along the way. I smiled, I winced, I laughed and I cried over the journey Annika had to survive. There wasn’t a single page that I didn’t feel some type of emotion. This story is just layer upon layer of emotions. From Annika’s struggles to fit in, to accepting Jonathan into her life, to this ending that was so very shocking and gut clinching, I was a mixed ball of anxiety. I don’t want to give anything away because getting to know these characters is all part of the experience but watching this heroine evolve is one of the most beautiful stories I’ve read in a very long time. While I absolutely loved this book, I was very disappointed at its abrupt ending. It looks and feels like a happy ever after even while it doesn’t. I desperately needed an epilogue. I need to know that everything really is alright. For the hard fist that landed in my chest at the conclusion, I have to deduct a star. Perhaps if the author releases a bonus chapter/epilogue I may revise it, but until then I will be unhappy with the ending of a story that was wonderful until that point. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book provided by NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
  • 1 person found this review helpful

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    Moving

    Annika and Jonathan were characters I couldn’t help but love. They meet in college in the early 1990s and their story travels back and forth from there to the present days of 2001. Annika felt like something was wrong with her for most of her life. She would get easily frustrated and agitated. Any change in her daily routine would throw her for a loop. Her college roommate, Janice, helped her with her daily struggles and problems. She met Jonathan at her chess club and he partnered with her every week. Their relationship was one that was handled carefully and slowly. These two people were her lifelines in her college years. The progression of the story and the characters themselves had me mesmerized and reading as fast as I could. The romance was written in a sweet caring way with a few tears here and there. Some of the scenes were a little more graphic than I’m used to reading but overall it was a well written story that I personally think is worth a second read. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and was not required to write a review positive or otherwise.
  • 1 person found this review helpful

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    Wonderful and surprising!

    This book was just wonderful! I went into this book rather blindly, having never read any of the author's prior work or knowing what this story was about. I was pleasantly surprised as soon as I started reading. This book grabbed my attention right away and never let go. I was captivated by Annika and Jonathan and wanted more than anything to see good things happen for them. I had an absolutely fabulous time with this book. Annika has trouble in many social situations. She has a hard time knowing what she should say and do in situations and puts little thought into her appearance. Crowds and a lot of noise bother her so she tries to avoid certain situations. She has a really hard time making friends and has led a rather solitary life. She does enjoy books and is really good at chess. Jonathan meets Annika though chess at college. He does see that Annika is a bit different in some ways but those differences don't bother him. He sees the goodness and caring in her and somehow seems to know how to be what she needs. I loved Jonathan and I also loved seeing Annika when she was with him. They just seemed to fit together perfectly. This book is told from both Jonathan and Annika's point of view during their college years and 10 years later when they meet up again. I liked the way that the story was laid out because it allowed the reader to slowly learn what went wrong as they were reconnecting. I also thought that using two points of view to tell the story was very powerful. It was really important to see how both Jonathan and Annika saw the events in their lives. Just when I thought I knew exactly where this book was going. Boom. I was wrong. I love it when a book surprises me and this one did just that in a spectacular fashion. As I neared the end of this book, I found myself holding my breath in anticipation of what would happen next. I think that the direction the story ended up going really did a great job in illustrating Annika's growth throughout the book. I would highly recommend this book to others. This was a story that surprised me, opened my eyes, and touched my heart. I hope to read more of this author's work very soon. I received a review copy of this book from St. Martin's Press.
  • 0 person found this review helpful

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    Annika and Jonathan's story is heartfelt & unique!

    4.5 stars. This story is very fascinating. Annika is a young woman who doesn't quite fit in or see the world the way most people do. She doesn't pick up on normal social cues and noisy places and crowds ramp up her anxiety. Jonathan meets Annika at the chess club and immediately feels a strong pull and attraction to her. They slowly form a friendship that eventually turns into a relationship and Annika relies heavily on Jonathan's strength and protection to get through the tumult of college life and acclimating in society. Until something pretty terrible turns their lives upside down. Something that Annika doesn't have the capacity to deal with, even with Jonathan's help. I'm getting ahead of myself here, the book starts out in present day (2001), with Annika bumping into Jonathan, who she hasn't seen for ten years. It is quite a surprise for her, and something totally out of her normal day to day, but she handles it quite well. Soon enough they start spending time together again, and Jonathan quickly sees that Annika has made great strides in how she deals with things that most people would not think twice about but that she has always struggled with. The story alternates between present day (2001) and their college days of 1991 when they first met and started a relationship. It was clear to me that Annika suffered some form of social anxiety and was at least borderline on the Autism spectrum, but back in 1991 it wasn't something that much was known about, much less talked about. And it was often something that people made fun of, and didn't make life easy for people who suffered anxiety and the symptoms associated with ASD. But Johnathan had incredible patience with Annika and it was clear to see why she bonded so well with him. Tracey does an amazing job of leading the reader through the journey these two college kids were on, building excitement that they were going to have a great future together, that love conquers all. Until something happens that tears at the fabric of their relationship, until the seam is so frayed there's nothing left to hold them together. That was heartbreaking, truly. The excitement builds again in present day, as these two people spend time together and catch each other up on everything that has happened in their lives for the past ten years. I waited with bated breath reading the present day chapters because they kept teasing whatever it was that tore them apart, until those past chapters finally revealed what it was. I admit, I shed a few tears at the loss of such a beautiful connection these two people had. Even after all Annika and Jonathan had been through, life up and throws another huge obstacle at them. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough to see if Annika was going to be able to rise to the challenge. All I wanted was for these two to be together! It's been ten years that they've lost, surely they deserve to find their happily ever after! What an intricate tale Tracey has woven in this story. I could keep reading about Annika and Johnathan for years to come. My only complaint about this book would be that the ending was wrapped up too quickly. I feel like there was a little more that needed to be fleshed out at the end before Annika and Jonathan rode off into the sunset. With as monumental as the events were that occur towards the end, I feel like the reader needs a little more substance with how Annika and Johnathan's story concludes. With the way it ends currently, I'm left saying, "that's it?" Yes it is happy and yes I am glad, but I feel unbalanced and need more happy stuff to even it out. That's just me, I readily admit I am greedy and want it all!
  • 0 person found this review helpful

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    Beautifully written, well worth the read.

    I’m really enjoying “The Girl He Used to Know” which is outside of my normal historical novel realm. A big thank you to all my book friends on Goodreads and Instagram. Because of you, I am trying authors that previously, I would have stayed away from. You have opened my horizons. Annika, who is on the Autism spectrum, has always struggled with acceptance, relationships and friendships. That is, until she meets Jonathan and her dorm roommate, Janice, in college in 1991. This book takes place over two different time periods, 1991 and 2001. Going from one period to the other, you can see their growth and the change in their maturity. We are also aware that something happened between Annika and Jonathan that pushed them apart and destroyed their relationship. We find out why, a bit later in the book. When they meet again 10 years after graduation, both have changed. They are more mature and have learned about themselves. These two main characters are endearing. I love Annika who is a strong woman and has developed coping mechanisms to deal with, and hide her autism. She loves Jonathan. Jonathan also truly loves Annika. He is so patient and loving with her. I was totally engrossed in this story. I didn’t know where the story was headed and towards the end found myself shouting “OH NO!”, literally, as I surprised my husband who was driving at the time. My heart was beating faster. I was trying to read faster. I was totally caught up in the story! Beautifully written, well worth the read.
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