ARC Review: Girl Against the Universe
Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes
Expected Publication Date: May 17th, 2016
Format/Source: eARC, courtesy of Harper Teen and Edelweiss. Thank you!
Rating: 5/5 stars
Part of a series? Nope! This is a standalone.
No matter how many charms she buys off the internet or good luck rituals she performs each morning, horrible things happen when Maguire is around. Like that time the rollercoaster jumped off its tracks. Or the time the house next door caught on fire. Or that time her brother, father, and uncle were all killed in a car crash—and Maguire walked away with barely a scratch.
It’s safest for Maguire to hide out in her room, where she can cause less damage and avoid meeting new people who she could hurt. But then she meets Jordy, an aspiring tennis star. Jordy is confident, talented, and lucky, and he’s convinced he can help Maguire break her unlucky streak. Maguire knows that the best thing she can do for Jordy is to stay away. But it turns out staying away is harder than she thought.
I honestly don't know where to begin with this book because Girl Against the Universe is one of those books. You know the ones that take up residence in your heart and make everything feel so lovely when you're done. Yeah, this was definitely one of those. This review is probably going to consist of a lot of rambling because I loved a great many things about this book, and I'm not sure I can coherently express all those feels.
The number one thing I loved about this book is the mental health portrayal. I've been reading more and more books lately that are spot-on and realistic with their representation, and I'm happy to say Girl Against the Universe is one of those. Maguire has PTSD, which she slowly but surely deals with with the help of her family and a therapist. No one tried to "fix her". They just wanted her to have the help and support she needed to feel better herself.
I also really loved Maguire's relationship with her family. I know not every family is close, but not every family is distant or just plain awful either and so often books focus on the later. Maguire has a wonderful stepdad, and her is supportive of her problems, though she does not always understand. There's a particular moment towards the end of the novel where Maguire and her mom confront their grief together, and it was really touching.
Another aspect of the novel I enjoyed was the fact that its centered around tennis. I may not like sports too much, but I love books about sports. GATU is the only tennis-centric YA I've heard of, and it makes it very unique and interesting. I always like hearing about school sports because I don't play any myself. But I did relate to the parts of Maguire's sports experience about school and how much school can suck and how hard it can be to make friends at school when it feels like everyone is already someone else's friend. School is strange, but Maguire figured it out.
And now let's talk about my favorite part of all of my favorite books: the cute love interest. In Girl Against the Universe, the love interest is Jordy, an adorable, attractive pro tennis player. He befriends Maguire by helping her with tennis (and he feeds her California burritos!), and as their relationship progresses, they help each other work out their issues. Like Maguire's family, Jordy doesn't try to fix her. He just wants her to be happy. And oh my GOODNESS do I love him.
"He's so close that I'm seeing double. "Is this the real you?" I ask. Maguire. This is more real than I have felt in months.""
Girl Against the Universe is a masterpiece of a novel. The characters are complex and realistic, the pacing is perfect, it tackles PTSD well, and it has a rather cute boy. This is a 2016 release you do not want to miss.
Have you read it? Are you planning on picking it up? Let me know! I'd love to talk about this or anything else you've read recently.