One of the features here at Books Are My Fandom is our Two Peas in a Pod Review. We will read and review a book as a team. We are choosing books we each haven’t read that sound good to us. Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your suggestions for books that Dani and Jamie should read!
Published by HarperTeen on May 17th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Amazon ♡ Chapters ♡ TBD
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.
This book is pretty much…
I honestly have nothing critical to say about it.
First, let me say thank you to Jamie for buying it for me when I couldn’t get hold of it in the UK. Also, a big thank you to Paula Stokes for the signed bookplate!
There are so many things I loved about this book. The story opens up several years after a car accident that killed Maguire’s father, brother and uncle, yet left her unscathed. Soon after, she experiences other accidents that affect everyone but her. This leads Maguire to believe that she is cursed, and that it’s safer for everyone if she stays away from them. After moving to San Diego, Maguire begins seeing a therapist, which leads to her meeting incredible people and achieving more than she believed she could.
So let’s list the ways that this book kicked butt.
ONE. This book handled mental health issues in a positive and understanding way that I don’t think I’ve ever seen in a book before. It was hopeful, but it was also realistic. What I particularly loved is that it didn’t feel like Stokes had picked A Diagnosis and then ticked the boxes of symptoms. Yes, there were several labels mentioned, but Maguire’s experiences were treated as unique to her, and she wasn’t That Girl With ABC. I also loved how all of her behaviours had believable rationalisation behind them. They weren’t just behaviours for the sake of behaviours. Maguire truly wanted to get better, and while she made progress, she also stumbled and regressed. The book acknowledged that, while people can learn and cope better with mental health, it’s not a straightforward, linear process, and mental health issues don’t just go away; you simply learn to live with them better.
TWO. Maguire made some amazing friends who supported her without being overbearing, and who didn’t think of her as a “freak” or “crazy”. While they didn’t push her or say she was being silly, they also didn’t ignore the issue. Personally, I find that completely ignoring an issue is almost as bad as only focusing on it. They acknowledged her feelings and didn’t make her feel lesser for them, and that is just AMAZING. I’m actually a little envious of how amazing they were!
THREE. Maguire’s family dynamics were so well done. I loved how they all so clearly loved each other, and they wanted to help one another. Sometimes, they didn’t know how to best do that, but the intentions were pure. It was also great to see Maguire learn that she wasn’t alone in her grief, and that others were going through their own processes.
FOUR. None of the characters were stereotypes. Some of them seemed that way at first, like Kimber, but they all turned out to be humans. Individuals. All doing the best they could. Some of the tidbits that made them come alive included a certain girl loving cars and basketball, another person taking an interest in an activity their other half loved to simply understand the one they loved more and Maguire being academic, a big reader AND sporty. People can be more than one thing and have more than one type of interest, and this book shows that!
FIVE. BEST FOR FREAKING LAST. Jordy. Oh my lordy, Jordy. (No, I am not ashamed of that.) Ok, yes, he did have that cocky charm that I unabashedly fall in love with in books, but I don’t think he was a stereotype. He had his two sides, and I could completely relate. I also refer to myself in different parts. But even under the famous facade, he was so genuinely wonderful. He wanted to make people happy, but like Maguire, he needed to balance that with his own happiness. Plus, the two of them were so freaking good for each other! Their relationship was so sweet, and it progressed in a glorious slow build with stumbles that I could relate to.
Side note: my mom would be ridiculously happy if I dated Jordy. She loves tennis.
The ending was beautiful, and I wish I could keep living as Maguire. And with Jordy. Why can’t this book go on forever? It got me out of a funk of my own, but now I don’t know how I’m supposed to read anything else. This is definitely going on my favourites shelf, and I will likely reread my favourite parts many times over.
Basically? READ THIS BOOK.
I pre-ordered GIRL AGAINST THE UNIVERSE because I had heard such EXCELLENT things about it from some trusted reviewer friends. And there was a great pre-order incentive for some signed swag so that was an added bonus! BUT THE BOOK WAS SO AMAZING THAT I WANT TO BUY IT A BILLION MORE TIMES AND JUST HAND IT OUT TO RANDOM PEOPLE WALKING DOWN THE STREET. The main thing about this one that I liked was that it looked at risk and taking chances and how your mind can play tricks on you but that shouldn’t stop you from moving forward.
The main reason I wanted to read this one is because it deals with a girl who has a mental illness and is trying to get better. Tick all those boxes and you’ve got me tbh. Maguire has a traumatic past and this causes her mental illnesses to come to the forefront and as events in her life occur, it just tacks on to what her beliefs are. And while she in theory knows it is a mental illness, that doesn’t mean that she still doesn’t have problems. So she goes to therapy to get help so she can conquer her fears and really live life.
Good aspect #1 of a billion: Positive. Therapy. Depiction. Way too often in media therapy is seen as something “bad” or that the character doesn’t actually get help from the therapist because they know themselves so much better or the therapist doesn’t really care about the character and is just in it for the money. But that wasn’t the case in GATU which I LOVED IT FOR. Maguire’s doctor was invested in her life, her goals, and made sure that she was doing things for herself and not just for other people. He helped her take baby steps and larger leaps but was there to support her no matter what — and even ensured she got in to see him when she had an emergency. POSITIVE THERAPY FTW.
Good aspect #2 of a billion: While Maguire and Jordy did things to help one another to be stronger, they were also focused on doing things for themselves. They didn’t need to spend 24/7 together or be constantly in touch, they just wanted to do what was best for the other person — even if it meant some tough decisions for themselves. Maguire and Jordy were supportive of one another, allowed each other to take the steps they needed to cross off their therapy goals, and also pushed each other to do more than they were anticipating. They had such a healthy relationship. I love Maguire and Jordy.
Good aspect #3 of a billion: Maguire. She did things for herself, asked her friends for help when needed, and made sure she was doing right by herself. She also grew so much as a character in terms of how she interacted with people and the risks she took, but she had the courage to do so deep down all along. I liked that she knew her limits and didn’t push herself — and that no one forced her to push herself — but she still was able to do the things she wanted, even if it was really hard. Plus, she realized that not everything is solved in a day and that no matter what she will still have some issues to work out but she KNOWS she can do it now. I cry happy tears for Maguire.
I would have liked just a tad bit more from the side characters, especially Kimber. I think she had a good dynamic with Jordy and that Maguire could have spent more time with her to understand her POV. She was kinda added in as a mean character with more depth because she cared about Jordy as a person rather than a player. I also would have liked more Jade and Penn because they were there and involved in Maguire’s life and I just wanted more about what made them tick.
I LOVED that everyone was super supportive of Maguire and her issues and that no one rolled their eyes or told her to suck it up. I loved how understanding everyone was and that they did what they could to make it easier for both Maguire and Jordy. If you are looking for a book that will lift your spirits up high and make you soar among the clouds, GIRL AGAINST THE UNIVERSE is the book for you. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to buy the rest of Paula Stokes books.
I think we can all agree that the only thing that needs to be said about this book is that EVERYONE SHOULD READ IT.