Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Girl Against The Universe by Paula Stokes

Girl Against The Universe by Paula Stokes
Release Date - May 17, 2016
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages - 382 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received from publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
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.
Fate. Destiny. Good luck. Bad luck. Many of us attempt to assign meaning to the events in our lives, particularly the more traumatic events, in order to process them. We often agonize over the seemingly bad events instead of appreciating those happy coincidences when things go our way. Girl Against The Universe is a story of a girl who thinks she's cursed with bad luck, but it's also a story of a girl finding her way back to herself after a tragedy and the path she takes to get there.

Maguire thinks she is cursed. She thinks those around her are potential collateral damage of the bad luck that seems to follow her. She's built up walls, and hidden herself away, to create a sort of shield between her and the world. She's crafted coping mechanisms that allow her to function, but don't allow her to fully live life. There is something so endearing about Maguire that she immediately lights up the page. She has a big heart, and a tenacity that surprised me. Her voice is one of the strongest elements of the story, and Paula has crafted her with skill and care. She takes the time to make sure the reader knows who Maguire is, and why she is making the choices she makes. It's easy to see things from her perspective because she's written so well. She reads as a younger teen, even younger than her years, which felt in line with her character. She's sheltered herself away and hasn't had a lot of the experiences her peers have and that was captured subtly through her voice.

With her voice in mind, this is the perfect bridge novel for those readers venturing from middle grade to young adult. It is humorous and light but also manages to tackle some pretty deep topics. It explores mental illness in a very authentic, approachable way but above all else in a way that is hopeful. This, combined with the fact that Maguire's voice feels authentically teen, makes it a book tailor made to appeal to a wide range of ages. It's a book that leaves you smiling, even as it opens the door for meaningful conversation about mental illness and therapy.

Hope is the heartbeat of this story. There is so much hope in Maguire and her story. This novel is a light to those who may be suffering like Maguire is. It tells them that with therapy and support they can make improvements to their life. The biggest message is that there is no easy fix. Sometimes it's 3 steps forward and four steps back but that doesn't mean you've failed. It stresses the need to bask in the little victories because those are what will add up to the big ones in the end. There is a very real, and well researched, tone to the therapy Maguire is receiving and her journey also feels honest and true. I loved that it's shown that Maguire cannot, and should not, do it on her own. It's when she allows herself to be vulnerable with other people, and accepts their support that she makes the greatest strides. It shows how vital and necessary it is to be there for loved ones who need it.

The romance is perfectly sweet with a wonderfully written love interest in Jordy. I appreciated that Jordy had his own plot outside of the romance and that each of them were struggling with their own issues. This is a relationship that highlights respect, support, patience and understanding as staples to any healthy relationship. Jordy and Maguire only work because they are good for each other and that comes from a place of respect. It's a refreshing change of pace from the abusive bad boy love interest that is becoming all too common in young adult novels.

Girl Against The Universe is, perhaps, Paula Stokes' best book to date. Filled with humour, heart, and well crafted characters, it's a read that has a little something for everyone. If you're a fan of contemporary young adult novels this is one not to be missed.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds SO good. I'm always looking for good books to add to my fiance's high school English classroom library, and I think this definitely would fit in. Thanks so much for the review!


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