***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato
Girl Against the Universe is a clear indication of how much Paula Stokes has grown as an author since The Art of Laineycame out. I really liked The Art of Lainey and I loved Liars, Incbut Girl Against the Universe was a phenomenal novel and one I am proud to claim as a favorite of 2016. Through this novel, Stokes beautifully explores mental illness and grief. Also this novel is full of a lot of fucking emotions so please be prepared. I haven’t had such a strong emotional reaction to a book in a while. I spent a good chunk dry crying and PAULA STOKES, YOU ARE AMAZING.
I tend to be picky about books that deal with grief because I always feel like there is an element of ‘romance cures all’ but that didn’t happen in Girl Against the Universe . Jordy and Maguire share a therapist and thats how they meet. For the past couple of years, Maguire has avoided people because she thinks she is bad luck. She doesn’t meet Jordy and change overnight. In fact, she makes it clear that she won’t just get better by being friends with him. It’s a process that happens through therapy sessions, help from friends, conversations with parents and she is not magically cured ever.
Healthy depictions of therapy and parental relationships is one of the things that makes this book stand out in general but Maguire really steals the show. Her journey to accept this terrible tragedy that happened to her and her interaction with the people around her is amazing. The way she slowly starts to heal and learns to seek help is SO IMPORTANT. I am probably going to phrase this terribly even though I am trying but I love the ways in which her mental illness is depicted. It is realistic and not at all seen as ‘quirky.’ There are people around Maguire who are genuinely worried about her and pay attention to her behaviour.
When your father and brother die, you don’t just magically heal. Even if it was years ago. The way Maguire deals with her grief is really what makes this book special to me. No one in my immediate family has passed away recently but this year has been full of a lot of death for several of my close friends which is why this book really hit home with me. The way Maguire deals with her grief is heartbreaking and honestly made me want to curl up in a ball and cry (and I mean, I did dry cry.) UGH. I am tearing up thinking about this book.
JORDY AND MAGUIRE ARE THE CUTEST COUPLE EVER. Their romance is slow burn and I LOVE that even though they like each other, they are friends before they are anything else. Especially since Maguire isn’t ready for a significant other at the beginning of the book (she has spent years avoiding people, so she definitely needs friends more than she needs significant others.) Jordy is just so precious and I LOVE that he respects Maguire but also calls her out when she does something inexcusable, hurts him or when she is making bad decisions.
Jordy is also a well developed character outside of his role as a friend/boyfriend. He has his own problems and I love that Stokes takes the time to explore those as well. Maguire may be the main character but Jordy is also important.
Note that I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review