At first glance, this is a novel about love, heartbreak, and second chances. Annika and Jonathan were college sweethearts who planned a future together, however, they soon discover that life doesn’t always go as planned and they go their separate ways. Ten years later they reunite. Both a little wiser, they make a second attempt at love. But as the story unfolds across two timelines, 1991 and 2001, and through the individual POV for each character, you begin to see that it is also a story of hope, belonging, acceptance, and personal growth, especially for Annika, who is on the autism spectrum.
I do enjoy a good love story. I also enjoy books that make me think and see the world in a new way. Looking at the world through the eyes of Annika accomplished both, and in doing so, raised a lot of questions. These are the ones that I found myself asking:
Does the author do a good job portraying a person with high functioning autism?
Can a person who is neurotypical accurately represent a person who is neurodiverse and should they?
Did Jonathan love Annika as much as she loved him or did he settle because he liked having someone love him like Annika did?
Annika gets an official diagnosis in her 30s, is her reasoning not to get tested understandable?
Without giving away any spoilers (I hope), I admit that I did not see the end coming. I should have – but didn’t. Maybe that was because I was listening to it, I wasn’t paying much attention to the timeline, I’m not sure, but regardless, it was a surprise and brought back a lot of memories.
Author: Tracey Garvis Graves
Title: The Girl He Used to Know
Publisher: St. Martin’s Publishing Group, 2019
Available as an audiobook: yes
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