Girl Against the Universe

girl universeby Paula Stokes
YA Contemporary
4 of 5 stars

Obviously since I’m writing about a girl actually cursed with bad luck, I had to see how Maguire handles her “curse” in our world. No magic involved, but she does have a lot of terrible events in her past that she blames herself for. They can be viewed as coincidences or the result of a curse, and Maguire decided long ago that SHE is the unlucky influence on those around her. She’s spent years holed up in her room avoiding contact with people as much as possible to prevent accidents.

She begins cognitive behavioral therapy because her mother wants her to attend a family memorial service in Ireland and that requires getting on a plane. Maguire makes a list of therapy challenges to attempt to take back the things the Universe has stolen from her: her freedom, her friends, and tennis. The cute boy with the appointment slot after hers asks for her help with some of his challenges, and *happens* to be an assistant coach for the girls’ tennis team. (A female MC who is good at sports?! Yes, please!) Before you ask, yes, their relationship is cute and complicated.

Maguire is an endearing character. I wasn’t sure how she’d be presented since she has such heavy anxiety and this naturally makes it difficult for her to do much. She is constantly worried, doing 5-second checks for danger to others, performing good luck rituals at every turn. But her voice is so smart and sympathetic and she is determined to do whatever she can to reclaim her life. At first, it’s just for her mom and the Ireland trip, but then it becomes something she wants for herself, too.

Ultimately, she realizes that once you start caring about anything or anyone, you have more to lose–and this story is her struggle to become okay with that.

The side characters could have been a bit more developed, but overall this book is excellent! Maguire and Jordy are characters with a therapist for different reasons, and they have a method that works for them. But the story stresses that this is just one method–that each person may find something else that is better for them, and that’s okay too. The romantic relationship was slow and sweet and always caved to the demands of their therapy and tennis practices. It’s balanced and well-done, with a satisfying end. Enjoy!

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, Girl Against the Universe is available on Goodreads and on Barnes & Noble’s website here. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!


Similar reads:

  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – Twin sisters Cath and Wren have always done everything together, including obsess over the Simon Snow series. But when they’re about to leave for college, Wren decides they aren’t rooming together. Cath’s anxiety makes everything about college a challenge, even the cute boy that hangs around with her roommate. This is another good look at a character trying to cope with anxiety, this time without a therapist.
  • When We Collided by Emery Lord – Vivi is staying in Verona Cove for the summer and Jonah is so cute he’ll be the perfect boyfriend.  Jonah’s family is barely getting by after his father’s death, and Vivi has her own reasons for staying distracted. An excellent story of finding love in spite of your circumstances. See my review here.
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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: The Start of Me and You | To Live a Thousand Lives
  2. Trackback: You’re Welcome, Universe | To Live a Thousand Lives
  3. Trackback: Some Kind of Happiness | To Live a Thousand Lives

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