Continuing with the 2019 Alphabet Variation Challenge:
For letter “G,” I read a book that was offered to me as an advance readers’ edition. Tracey Garvis Graves’ The Girl He Used to Know will be released in April 2019.
Graves’ story alternates between two time lines and two different points of view within those time lines. In 1991, Annika Rose is attending the University of Illinois, studying library science. What makes Annika different is that she suffers from a developmental disability that challenges her social skills, her personal behavior, and sometimes has her retreating into herself. With the help of her parents and a sympathetic roommate, Annika has been managing her college life and trying to fit in. Additionally, she volunteers at a wildlife rehab center and participates in a chess club, although she plays with the same opponent every week and never socializes with any of the members. Entering Annika’s world is Jonathan Hoffman who is a transfer student, studying finance. He also plays chess. Annika’s usual partner asks her to play with Jonathan, despite the fact that she has no interest. However, Jonathan is attracted to the very pretty chess player and so begins their relationship. Before long, Jonathan invites Annika to join him in other social situations and they grow closer, eventually becoming intimate and planning a life together beyond college.
In 2001, Annika is a librarian at a public library in Chicago. She surprisingly runs into Jonathan at a local grocery store. Jonathan has recently moved back to Illinois from New York City where he has been working in finance and has recently divorced. Apparently, their plans as a couple, during their college years, did not come to fruition and they tentatively reconnect. Jonathan is especially cautious as he feels burned from the past — both in terms of his first love, Annika, and his ex-wife, Liz. As Jonathan gets to know this newer Annika who has become more capable and Annika gets to explain herself and her decisions to Jonathan, they — again — get closer. Will it end differently for them a decade later?
First off, I enjoyed this book and, in fact, what I wanted was more. I wanted more about Annika’s disability. The reader only learns later in the book what Annika’s diagnosis is and that her father also suffers from the same condition. She mentions that her disability could be hereditary. I didn’t know that was possible. So, I was ready to be educated. The second thing I wanted more of was … the ending, possibly an epilogue. If the reader focuses on the second time frame, the fact that Jonathan becomes a financier from New York City, you might guess what happens and what challenges the couple’s happiness. So, yeah, I wasn’t sure how that would work out and I could’ve used a little more story…. That being said, this is a good romance. I’d give it an A-.
The Alphabet Variation Challenge – 4 down, 15 to go (D, G, M, S …)