I was so excited to get this book after hearing some great early buzz and the fact that it involved mental health – luckily, all those expectations were met and this book blew me away from beginning to end.
Challenge 1: Read More Mental Health-Related Books
I love books that deal with mental health – I have a challenge specifically made up to read more, and I just relate to them so well, even when the protagonists are struggling with issues I don’t have. Therefore, as soon as I knew that was both a Paula Stokes contemporary and a book about mental health, this book really caught my interest. It did a great job of living up to all those expectations, too – protagonist Maguire has been suffering from what is basically extreme anxiety and PTSD after the death of her father, uncle, and brother in a car crash of which she was the only survivor, followed by plenty of bad luck; because of these issues, she regularly sees a therapist who is AWESOME. Seriously, these are the protagonists we need in our books, not the ones who obviously don’t care about their patients and who apparently never even bothered going to psych school. Her journey is a long and difficult one, filled with plenty of small goals that gradually help her heal while not miraculously curing her in just a few months.
Challenge 2: Find Protagonists I Relate With
I haven’t even closely been through what Maguire has been, for which I am so grateful, but I still found myself relating to her a lot. She’s not great around new people because she’s scared of hurting other people with her bad luck and she has panic attacks over various big and small things. She’s serious about getting better, but she’s also scared of the many things that are required to do so, and I related to that so much.
Challenge 3: Less Random Mean Girls
At the beginning of the book, I was a bit worried that this book would suffer from a case of random mean girl syndrome when we were introduced to a fellow tennis player who seemed to dislike Maguire for basically no reason. Well, she had a little bit of a reason (it seemed like she liked Maguire’s love interest), but it seemed quite flimsy. Over the course of the book, her character did get a little more fleshed out and the two even become good teammates, even if they weren’t friends at the end, so Stokes did a good job of avoiding that dreaded RMG syndrome (I’m going to make it a thing, I’m telling you).
Challenge 4: Find Romances I Can Support
I am definitely of the mind that romances are not necessary in mental health books because it makes it seem like the new romance gets rid of the anxiety/depression/eating disorder/etc. Even though I still felt this way while reading the book, I also liked it quite a bit – it was a fairly slow burn and much of the time, Jordy was just there as a friend helping a fellow therapist patient – they keep using each other in a positive way to accomplish various “homework assignments,” and Jordy was very understanding of how slow Maguire needed to take a few things, such as riding in a car with someone else. All in all, it still wasn’t really necessary, especially with some romantic drama near the middle or later point, but I still quite liked it and thought Jordy was a pretty awesome guy.
Ultimate Goal: Love This Book
Seriously, you should read this book whether you like contemporaries in general, contemporaries about mental health, cute romances, or pretty awesome friendships (Maguire’s new friends, as well as her awesome family, weren’t as fleshed out as I wanted, especially compared to Maguire and Jordy, but they were still awesome and I just want more of them). This basically cements Stokes as an Awesome Author in my book – I need more from her, like now. Chop, chop, get started on those awesome books with cute romances and strong, sports-loving protagonists!
Title: Girl Against the Universe
Maguire is bad luck.
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 roller coaster 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 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 may be harder than she thought.
I was extremely lucky to receive a digital ARC of this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book or the content of this review.