Review: Girl Against the Universe

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Girl Against the Universe by: Paula Stokes

My Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

From the author of The Art of Lainey and Liars, Inc. comes a fresh, contemporary story about one girl’s tragic past and a boy who convinces her that maybe her luck is about to change. Perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen or Jenny Han.

Maguire knows she’s 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 her brother, father, and uncle were all killed in a car crash—and Maguire walked away with barely a scratch. But then on her way out of her therapist’s office, she meets Jordy, an aspiring tennis star, who wants to help Maguire break her unlucky streak. Maguire knows that the best thing she can do for Jordy is to stay away, but staying away may be harder than she thought.

Beware spoilers ahead!

I had heard about this book through GR. For awhile I was very hesitant to read this book. Not gonna lie but the first came across this book I only read the first sentence and immediately thought Maguire was crazy. I went back again and this time finished reading the synopsis and I actually liked it. A few months passed and I found out about the mental health in this book and I put it together. It’s not that Maguire is crazy but it’s because of several incidents that makes her believe that she is bad luck. Another reason I decided to read it is because of this post. In this post Paula Stokes had a guest post on The Midnight Garden. Paula talks about how anxiety doesn’t make us weak. She also mentions Girl Against the Against and all the research that went into the book. I was in awe after reading the guest post and decided to read it. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it!

The book begins in August and Maguire visiting her cognitive behavioral therapist Dr. Leed. For the first few visits Maguire doesn’t say much. She has no interest in seeing Dr. Leed and certainly doesn’t want to talk. One day she explains Dr. Leed about the car accident that killed her brother, uncle, and father, but she stayed alive. Then when she was 12 years old she went to a sleepover. Somehow all the other girls got food poisoning but she was fine. The girl who held the sleepover spread a rumor that Maguire was bad luck. After that Maguire put everything in her life together and started to believe it.

She begged her mother to homeschool her without mentioning the bad luck. Her mother said no so Maguire developed coping strategies. Every morning Maguire has a morning good luck ritual. She wears a lucky pendant. She does five second checks to look for any hazards. She knocks on wood or any other textured table three times. And has a luck notebook where she records every bad thing that has happened to her.

While this does work for her purposes she isolates herself from everyone. She spends most of her time in her bedroom and avoids everyone so that she doesn’t cause them any harm. One day her mother brings up her grandmother and going to visit their family in Ireland. Maguire has a breakdown because she can’t go to Ireland because that would involve traveling by plane. If Maguire were to go on a plane she wouldn’t be able to control her surrounding and it would become overwhelming to do her five second checks. Maguire is absolutely devastated because she would like to her family again. Maguire brings this up to Dr. Leed and together they come up with a list of seven tasks the goal being to go to Ireland.

I am a little disappointed that I didn’t like this book as much as I thought I would. Nonetheless I still enjoyed it! This book is written in first person in Maguire’s point of view. It is divided into parts from August to December. And there are 20 therapy sessions. As usual the writing style was well done!

I absolutely loved the relationships in this book! Maguire’s family was so supportive and sweet. I loved reading about the interactions between Maguire and her step-father. And hello a well done relationship with a step-parent is always good in my opinion! Her half siblings Erin and Jake (short for Jacob) were so cute! Her mother was so sweet trying to help Maguire get out of her comfort zone while always remaining there. Also her mother was unemployed and it was portrayed nicely! No one made a jab at her for being unemployed so that she could be there for her family. Like I said I absolutely adored the family aspect!

During her tennis tryout (apart of her tasks list) Maguire meets Jade. Who later becomes one of Maguire’s best friends. Jade is informed about Maguire and how she believes she is bad luck. After finding out Jade remains with Maguire throughout the whole book and never once does she assume that Maguire is crazy (like I did when I read the first sentence of the synopsis). There’s also Penn who is Jordy’s sister. Penn also remains supportive just like Jade and Maguire’s family. When Maguire meets Jordy they agree to help each other in achieving their goals. Jordy also visits Dr. Leed but for very different reasons. Dr. Leed is also supporting Maguire and helps her with comings up with some tasks for her list. I loved reading about the therapy sessions!

When Maguire and Dr. Leed made her task list Maguire assumed everything would go perfectly. Of course that didn’t happen but she did grew throughout the whole book. And most of the time the tasks were accomplished. Even if they were accomplished in very unexpected ways. Jordy also grew through the whole book. Maguire and Jordy where able to help each other achieve their goals. It’s revealed pretty early why Jordy is seeing Dr. Leed. I felt pretty bad for him but it was nice that he had Penn to support him as well.

I’m not exactly sure how to categorize the romance. Jordy falls for Maguire pretty quickly. And while the two have a lot of make-out sessions they don’t start dating towards the end of the book. Maguire spends most of her time with Jordy to try and push him away because she’s afraid that she’ll hurt him and he’s not exactly in the position to date her. Maguire wants to get her life sorted out first. Which was admirable but it was pretty obvious that Maguire had feelings for Jordy. The romance really confused me.

I had a few problems with Girl Against the Universe. During the October section I found that it started to drag. And it became boring to read about the daily activities. Now I know that this is a contemporary and you do read about daily activities, I just found this to be very boring. I didn’t like how most of the times Jade and Maguire would talk to each other it was about Jordy. I know that girls will talk to each other about their crushes and whatnot but Jordy was in most of their conversations.

As mentioned above the romance really confused me. Especially how Maguire would want to focus on herself but still kiss Jordy back and not admit that she had feelings for him. I feel somewhat indifferent to Jordy. Jordy actually confused me most of the times. This was definitely done on purpose because Jordy didn’t really know himself. While yes he was nice to Maguire with helping her and understanding, he still said stuff that I didn’t like. And overall he was confusing to read about. And lastly I felt that I didn’t know Maguire. Maguire is written quite vague which might come from the fact that she doesn’t get out. But I’m pretty sure that it was done on purpose. Nonetheless I still enjoyed this book!

Overall this was a good book! I recommend it to everyone because I feel that while I didn’t love it, it’s important to read this book.   

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11 thoughts on “Review: Girl Against the Universe

  1. I’m sorry that you didn’t like GATU, I had heard such great things about it. Right now I’m sort of on the fence about reading it, while I do love the cover and the synopsis, vague mc’s are kinda annoying. Hopefully you’ll like your next read a lot more!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Monthly Wrap-Up: May 2016 | Fafa's Book Corner

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