First, 1991-1992: Annika has always had a difficult time communicating with others. She doesn’t always read social cues or respond to situations in the ways that others believe she should. While some people are antagonistic or uncomfortable around her, it’s her lack of pretense, and her warmth and honesty, among other traits, that Jonathan likes so much.
But Annika and Jonathan’s relationship ends. Ten years later, they run into each other. Annika wants to be with him again, but is Jonathan willing to take another chance?
Told from Annika and Jonathan’s perspectives in 1991-92 and 2001, Tracey Garvis Graves’s The Girl He Used to Know is an insightful second chance romance with a giant pained-but-still-hopeful heart. It’s that hopefulness that I loved about this book and its characters; the hope that people can change for themselves in the ways that matter and that the changes willfully undertaken can help them become better partners; the hope that differences can be overcome and challenges can be met when people are willing to fight.
This is a lovely romance told in simple and affecting prose, but it also reminds us that love—being in love—requires work. A real commitment to each other and to staying together. And that how we feel about ourselves matters when it comes to how we feel in and about our relationships. These things are made apparent when Annika and Jonathan re-connect in 2001 Chicago, and their future together is so uncertain.
For those reasons, The Girl He Used to Know feels authentic to real life, where a HEA is not guaranteed, where people fall in and out of love all the time, and where sometimes love isn’t enough (and of course, sometimes it is). It’s a love story with teeth, and I savored every minute of it.
I was given a complimentary copy of The Girl He Used to Know via She Speaks.
About the Author
When my toddler and infant sleep--or are otherwise engaged--I write, read, and eat lots of chocolate.