Girl He Used to Know (Graves)

The Girl He Used to Know 
Tracey Garvis Graves, 2019
St. Martin's Press
304 pp.

A compelling, hopelessly romantic novel of unconditional love.

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. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Tracey Garvis Graves is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary fiction.

Her 2011 debut novel, On the Island, spent 9 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, has been translated into thirty-one languages, and is in development with MGM and Temple Hill Productions for a feature film. Her second novel, The Girl He Used to Know came out in 2019.

She is also the author of the e-books, Uncharted, Covet, Every Time I Think of You, Cherish, Heart-Shaped Hack, and White-Hot Hack. She is hard at work on her next book. (From the publisher .)

Book Reviews
An accidental meeting rekindles the romance between former college lovers Annika and Jonathan. Endearing characters will reinforce your faith in people's goodness.
Good Housekeeping

There are a lot of romantic books coming out in April, but none quite like The Girl He Used to Know.


Graves does a good job of putting readers in Annika’s shoes and setting up the foundation for the book’s ending, though the narrative often gets mired in lengthy lovey-dovey scenes. Readers who don’t mind the over-the-top emotional element will find a solid story here.
Publishers Weekly

[S]eparated by tragedy [Annika and Jonathan] meet again years later. She's a librarian (of course), he's a divorced Wall Street genius, and maybe their love has withstood what they've endured. Big promo, much love; from the New York Times best-selling author of On the Island.
Library Journal

Graves's strong, autistic heroine fights for the love she once lost in this sensitive, affecting romance.
Shelf Awareness

Graves creates a believable love affair in which Annika is not infantilized but rather fully realized as simply different. And her differences become her strengths when catastrophe strikes, compelling Annika to take the lead for the first time in her life. A heartwarming, neurodiverse love story.
Kirkus Reviews

Discussion Questions
We'll add publisher questions if and when they're available; in the meantime, use our LitLovers talking points to help start a discussion for THE GIRL HE USED TO KNOW … then take off on your own:

1. As a high-functioning autistic student, Annika struggled in her first year of college. Talk about her initial experiences in this new environment, particularly her difficulties meeting and relating to people. How does her roommate help her? Might Janice's kindness and friendship been something you would have offered a shy, awkward loner?

2. Janice introduced Annika to the chess club. What is it about the game of chess that so appealed to Annika? Why the powerful pull to the game?

3. The story is told through both Annika's and Jonathan's perspectives. Why might the author have chosen both points-of-view rather than, say, only Annika's?

4. Ten years after college and living in Chicago, how has Annika changed from her younger days? Where does she find solace, and what has she come to accept about her life? After bumping into Jonathan, she thinks "I desire to replace the memories of the girl he used to know with the woman I’ve become." Who is the woman she has "become"?

5. Describe pair's grocery store meeting: how does each feel, what emotions run through them? Have you ever been in a similar situation—bumping into a former love interest after years apart?

6. How well does Tracey Gravis Graves present Annika's autism? Do you consider her a well-rounded character, do you feel you know her, understand her confusions in social situations? Do you sympathize with her—without pitying her?

7. How would you describe Jonathan? Why is he so leery of getting involved with Annika when they meet ten years on?

8. Are you satisfied with the way the book ended?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online and off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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