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The Girl He Used to Know
In Tracey Garvis Graves latest book, The Girl He Used to Know, Annika is a high-functioning woman with autism spectrum disorder. Throughout the story, the reader is given an inside look into her life and how she copes with being on the spectrum. Annika struggled with life in a way most of us will never understand. Socially awkward, her experiences with college and daily life was so very different and only underscored how difficult just the simplest encounters could be.

When Annika gets to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and has an understanding roommate that signs her up for the chess club she meets Jonathan Hoffman. Jonathan does not mind that Annika is different. He can see through her awkwardness to her beautiful heart, and they fall in love. After a tragic event and separating ways, their story picks up again ten years later when they meet by chance at Mariano’s in Chicago. Annika is the girl that Jonathan never forgot and Annika still hurts over their breakup.

I enjoyed this second chance romance very much, but the book also strongly focuses on the heroine's own personal growth. How she evolves from someone filled with anxiety that leans heavily on others to cope socially, to a woman who has fought for her own self-confidence and the skills to thrive on her own two feet. The book has dual points of view and alternates from the present time to flashbacks of the past in the couple's college years.

This is a unique book written with remarkable empathy. Although this is a fictional story, it is extremely relatable, inspirational, and insightful.

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