This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks.
I would like to start this review with a minor spoiler warning.
The Girl He Used To Know written by Tracy Garvis Graves a New York Times Bestselling Author. This novel is a nonlinear narrative told by multiple narrators. We follow Annika and Jonathan. If you like the show This Is Us, then you will love this book. We must piece together the past and the present. Much like we do when learning about Jack and Rebecca’s love story. The Girl He Used To Know is like watching an episode of This Is Us that only focuses on Jack and Rebecca.
The Girl He Used To Know took me by surprise for two reasons. One, at its core The Girl He Used To Know is a love story shrouded in mystery. Two; The Girl He Used To Know includes the perspective of both lovers. Annika and Jonathan reunite after ten years apart. Deductive reasoning is crucial while reading this book. You need to figure out why Annika behaves the way she does.
Annika ended her and Jonathan’s relationship by ghosting him. I suspected early on that Annika had a developmental disorder and this was the root of the plots climax. The language of Annikas narrative gave away her disorder. It is not until page 195 that Annika gets a diagnosis and a name for her disorder. Since half the novel takes place in the early 1990s, it makes sense. It would be nice for the reader to know earlier.
I loved the fact we could hear Jonathan’s point of view. It was sometimes underwhelming. The focus was Annika and her journey. I feel the multiple narrator angle had not been used to its full potential. Especially in 1992 during the last few weeks of the semester. And on 9/11. We only heard Annikas side, hearing Jonathans point of view would enrich the story.
We knew Annikas thoughts and motivation. That made it easier to become absorbed in Annikas journey. I liked Jonathan’s point of view, but it fell a little flat. Annikas narrative told us about her personal journey. Jonathans often focused his relationship with Annika. Jonathan’s chapters assured us that Annikas point of view is correct. Jonathan is a flat/foil love interest whose backstory is not as important as Annikas. I immersed myself Annikas chapters. Jonathan’s seemed like there was something missing at times.
Annika is a dynamic protagonist. Her obstacles differentiate her from the typical protagonist. This makes The Girl He Used To Know a fantastic book. Annikas journey makes this book engrossing. I read this book in three sittings. At 291 pages that means it had to hold me captive to read 90 plus pages per sitting.
My complaints about Jonathan’s point of view aside, two things bothered me. Not enough to dislike the book. But they need mentioning. If you have read my previous book reviews, you know I love cozies which are a sub-genre of mystery. Cozies do not contain profanity, and little or no sex or violence. I dislike detailed or graphic sex scenes. I feel I do not need that information to enjoy the book.
There are a few in this book. I understand why they are there and perhaps they help you understand Annika. Perhaps it’s a way to bring awareness. I dislike sex scenes and the first one caught me off guard. I could have done without them. Or at least less detail. The scenes are not that graphic but it needs to mentioning.
There are people who find them unnecessary. I am not saying sex scenes are bad at all. Some of us don’t need them to gain further insight.
Last, the thing that makes me the most uncomfortable is 9/11. Anyone who can remember has their own story to tell. While 9/11 happened 17 years ago, for some it is still too soon. I am conflicted when a book or movie uses 9/11.
I am not ready yet to embrace 9/11 in fiction yet. Garvis Graves could have made the falling action of this story up. Im not angry but it made me uncomfortable. I reviewed The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain and was unhappy 9/11 was a plot device.
Despite the things I nitpicked at, The Girl He Used To Know is a great book to lose yourself in. This book provided me with a distraction from reality. If you can read and lose a few hours that makes the book worth reading.
It would not surprise me if The Girl He Used To Know was on the New York Times Best Sellers list for a long time. I recommend you read this as soon as you can. The Girl He Used To Know goes on sale 4/2. You can learn more and pre-order the book here.