Girl Against the Universe
Author: Paula Stokes
Release Date: May 17
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. (Goodreads)
Time doesn’t heal anything. It’s like drinking. The best it can do is help you forget, if you’re lucky.
I went into this book with extremely lofty expectations. I adore Paula as much as she adores my cat, Peanut (see our social media accounts for proof) and both The Art of Lainey and Liars, Inc. were books I enjoyed so I knew I must read this.
She did NOT disappoint. This was such a great book for so many reasons. It did multiple things incredibly well. It had cute, fluffy moments. It had awesome portrayal of mental health issues, how mental health professionals can have a great positive influence on an individual’s life, and how living with mental illness doesn’t take away from what that person can be or do. Also a swoony athlete. And great female friendships. PAULA, ARE YOU A WIZARD (witch)?
I was looking for a very particular type of read as it’s basically summer and that calls for feel-good reads that can be enjoyed in the sun! This gave me exactly that with a couple of bonus punches right in my feels.
First thing everyone needs in a summer read is someone to swoon over. Just because I don’t have an *actual* summer romance doesn’t mean I can’t have one with a fictional character, OKAY?! I like Maguire and want her to be happy…but I also want to steal Jordy from her. He’s perfect in that he has so many flaws but still kicks ass in life. He’s struggling with his own problems and still fights to find a way to help Maguire with hers. Not just that; he also finds ways to make her therapy homework mesh with his so that both have a support system while doing new things and challenging themselves. If that doesn’t make your heart flutter then I think you should get a scan to check if you still have one ;). Jordy is athletic, funny, caring, and fearless. NEW BOOK BOYFRIEND ALERT! No, I won’t share him.
Jade/Maguire and Penn/Maguire are two of my favourite friendship pairings. They work so well together and both girls are such great support systems for Maguire. It’s easy to feel like you don’t deserve those kinds of interaction and friendship because you feel flawed (I’ve been there) but when someone accepts you and builds you up like Jade and Penn do with Maguire it’s the best feeling. I love seeing friendships like this in YA. I also love how Penn isn’t just “Jordy’s sister”. She was developed into her own thing outside of him that, sometimes, I even forgot she’s his sister!! Even Kimber, who I hated at first, I ended up admiring for how fiercely loyal she turns out to be. Basically, P. Stokes writes friends as well as she writes swoooooooon-worthy boys.
Okay, time for the more hard-hitting stuff. THERAPY! I was so impressed with how the therapy sessions were treated and how the relationship between patient and super-cool therapist played out. He didn’t just listen, he didn’t force anything on his patients as “treatment”…instead he works with them, their comfort levels, and their strengths to build a plan and help them through their doubts. The interactions aren’t perfect. They don’t get better instantly or speedily. These sessions are part of a long, tough journey. I loved every second of it.
This book has feels, great friends, a great boy, and also tackles some very important topics! It does all of it incredibly well. I got caught up in the friendships, the tennis, and the swooning but it also got me thinking a lot about mental health. Many struggle with it and the stereotypical therapy sessions seen in TV/movies and even books don’t always apply to the experiences people have (thank goodness).
Paula shows us that it’s okay to be having a hard time, to seek help, and to continue struggling even while you’re working with a professional. We are all human, after all!
I highly recommend this book! If you haven’t read it yet…GET IT TOGETHER. RUN TO THE STORE OR THE LIBRARY. READ GATU!