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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

ARC Book Review: Girl Against The Universe by Paula Stokes

Author: Paula Stokes
Series: N/A
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: May 17th 2016
My Rating: 5 cups
Source: ARC
Blurb (from Goodreads):

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 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.

From author Paula Stokes comes a funny and poignant novel about accepting the past, embracing the future, and learning to make your own luck.


*Disclaimer: I won a physical ARC copy of this book. This does not influence my rating or opinion of the book.


I had really high expectations when I started reading this book. Mental illness and characters going to therapy are themes that I usually shy away from, because of my own profession. I find it hard not to focus on the technical aspects of these themes when reading, or on the fact that sometimes some of the stuff mentioned is inaccurate. So, as I said, really high expectations here.

Since I mentioned therapy first, I have to rate that. Major props to Paula Stokes for nailing the heart of therapy. I can't remember the exact quote (and like the idiot that I am I didn't write it down or anything *smacks self*), but Maguire's therapist says at one point something along the lines of "You're doing the hard work, I'm just here to guide you". Which, to me, as someone who's thinking of working in the field, is insanely gratifying because people, we are not wizards. That sentence (or the real version, from the book, not my memory of it), made me squeal in delight because YAY! Someone gets it!

I fell in love with Maguire right away. I admired her so much, from start to finish. She might seem like a weak individual at first, because of her PTSD and her other issues, but holy crap is she strong and brave! I love how she decides to start fighting her demons, how she decides to live instead of hide away from the world. I also loved the fact that there are a few bumps along the way, because it showed not only how strong mental problems are, but also that you have to be strong no matter what.

I also loved Jordy. He was a pretty complex character, but I loved the fact that he just provided the tiny push Maguire needed to start fighting her PTSD, and not the cure. Jordy was also really strong and I liked that he too managed to find himself along the way. I'm now going to pester Paula and bribe her with virtual cookies to maaaaaybe write a novella from his POV. Not a full novel (although I can hope!!), but just a glimpse into his psyche, how he got to the point we find him at the start of the book, how he decided to fight his own demons, how he felt when things got a little bit rough, how he feels now, at the end. Okay, so maybe that is a full novel *blush*.

I also learned a lot about tennis, which I never thought possible. I cried, because what else are you supposed to do when reading some of the most heartbreaking scenes in this book? This was also my first PA novel, and I definitely enjoyed it, enough to be add this author on my watch/must read list. So when this book comes out, grab a copy and read it, because it's an amazing story of how to face your demons by relying on yourself and not take shortcuts or rely on someone else to make the pain go away.


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