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Tracey Garvis Graves's THE GIRL HE USED TO KNOW -- Sara's Review

Updated: Jan 23, 2020

Hey all! Sara here! I am going to talk to you today about a book I absolutely adored. It was one of those books that came at exactly the right time for me as a reader. AND if you know me from the podcast, you know that I am a pretty slow reader and I zipped right through this one.

The book is told in first person in alternating perspectives, in alternating timelines. First, we meet Annika. It is 2001 in Chicago and she runs into her college boyfriend, Jonathan, who she has never quite gotten over. Jonathan, the other voice in the book, is a divorcée working a high stress job in finance. When Annika runs into Jonathan in a chance encounter at the market and finds out they have been living in walking distance of each other for years, they begin a tentative relationship to rekindle what they once had.

Through flashbacks in the alternate timeline of 1991, we discover the inception of Annika and Jonathan’s relationship, the path that it takes in their time together, and its demise. First, I love a book in alternating perspectives. Second, I love a love story. Third, I love a book with interesting, layered characters. This book has all of this and so much more. I would be remiss not to mention the skillful way Graves develops the character of Annika, and how she reveals Annika’s quirks and growth to us throughout the narrative. She encapsulates both the struggle of adapting to others’ expectations of us and the revelation of being comfortable in our own skin in Annika’s story.

There is a twist of sorts in the story that I didn’t see coming–it may be that I wasn’t paying attention, because I was so wrapped up in the Annika and Jonathan, because after reflection, it made complete sense to me. If you read this, you MUST come back and let me know if you anticipated the twist or not.

I don’t want to give any further commentary for fear of spoiling this gem. I am fairly certain it will be one of my top reads of 2019. It is compelling, funny, heart-breaking, and inspiring–so much wrapped up in a fast-paced, quick read. I won’t soon forget Annika or Jonathan or their beautiful story.

P.S. My friend, Jen, had a bit of a different take on it. Maybe she will write her own review in the future.

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