Annika (rhymes with Monica) Rose, is an English major at the University of Illinois. Anxious in social situations where she finds most people’s behavior confusing, she’d rather be surrounded by the order and discipline of books or the quiet solitude of playing chess.
Jonathan Hoffman joined the chess club and lost his first game–and his heart–to the shy and awkward, yet brilliant and beautiful Annika. He admires her ability to be true to herself, quirks and all, and accepts the challenges involved in pursuing a relationship with her. Jonathan and Annika bring out the best in each other, finding the confidence and courage within themselves to plan a future together. What follows is a tumultuous yet tender love affair that withstands everything except the unforeseen tragedy that forces them apart, shattering their connection and leaving them to navigate their lives alone.
Now, a decade later, fate reunites Annika and Jonathan in Chicago. She’s living the life she wanted as a librarian. He’s a Wall Street whiz, recovering from a divorce and seeking a fresh start. The attraction and strong feelings they once shared are instantly rekindled, but until they confront the fears and anxieties that drove them apart, their second chance will end before it truly begins.
“Such is my desire to replace the memories of the girl he used to know with the woman I’ve become.”
As a long time fan of On the Island, I was intrigued to see that Tracy had written this book. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it after I saw the simplicity and beauty of the cover. What I found inside was something I was not expecting in the least bit.
There is something about reading about characters with mental illnesses that really fascinates me. I love to see them working, thinking, and interacting with the people and the situations around them. I love learning things with them and experiencing all of the things with them. It really helps me with connecting to said characters. I get vulnerable, my guard is down and I am completely open to all possibilities when it comes to characters like Annika. She’s a wild card but I love that about her. I love her honesty, her sensibility, and her personality so much.
The writing in The Girl He Used to Know was so addictive. Resembling a lot of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s work (whom I love), the writing flowed well with the story and really made it hard to put down. The messages and themes that were touched on weren’t over done and the story-line never drug on. I was genuinely enjoying myself and the author’s work while I was reading.
”Marched to the beat of a different drum, did she?”
“She marched to the beat of an entirely different band. One you’ve never heard of and under no circumstances ever expected to like.”
Very rarely do I ever crave an epilogue. I can live my life without them in so many books that I read but for some reason I REALLY itched for one in this story. I can’t explain it. But their story wasn’t done for me and I really needed that last little bit of stretch to align the cherry on the top of my cake.
“How could I tell him that my loneliness was crushing? How it felt awful to be lonely but not know how to reach out to people and fill the time I always had too much of?”
Although this story revolved around Annika, I couldn’t help but fall in love with Johnathan. He was those good type of heroes that I love to read about. The vulnerable ones who aren’t like any one else around them. The ones who fight and show the woman how much she really means to him. He was so much good in Annika’s life but that brings me to my next point.
Annika did not need him. I think that is what really sold me with this book. Annika lived her life, achieved her dreams, all without a male or his romance in her life. She fought and clawed and did things her way without deterring in any type of direction or following any body else. She really did march to the beat of her own band.
I was wildly in love with this story and these characters. I think these are the type of romance books I yearn for. The ones with powerful messages and meaning to them. The ones that viscerally slice you open and make you feel the things that the characters within the novel want you to feel. I hope you go into this story blind. I hope you find all of the beauty inside of it that I did. I couldn’t put it down. Annika drew me in from the beginning and I couldn’t let go of her even when the book was over.