[note note_color=”#F2943F” text_color=”#ffffff”]Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes • May 17, 2016 • Harper Teen
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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.[/note]
[note note_color=”#BFD1D1″ text_color=”#ffffff”]I received this book for free from HarperCollins for review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.[/note]
First sentence: “There’s a thing that sometimes happen in your brain when you’re the only survivor of a horrific accident.”
Maguire Kelly has been plagued with bad luck. It’s hard for her to believe that all the bad things that happen around her are mere coincidences when it’s all stacked up against each other.
- At 11 years old, her father, brother, and uncle were killed in a car crash, but Maguire came out unscathed.
- At 12 years old, a rollercoaster she was on veered off track, and everybody except Maguire had serious injuries.
- At 16 years old (before moving to Pacific Point), she accidentally left a candle burning, and the neighbors house was engulfed in flames.
Wouldn’t you start to think that you’re nothing but bad luck?
When You’re Someone Like Maguire, What Do You Do in Girl Against the Universe?
- Believe you’re a harbinger of bad luck.
When nothing but bad luck occurs when you appear, you’ll start believing you bring it wherever you go. This is Maguire.
She’s absolutely convinced she’s bad luck, so she has isolated herself from others for fear they will get hurt. Maguire has sets of things she must do—good luck rituals in the morning, daily positive affirmations, five second perimeter checks wherever she goes—for her peace of mind. It’s all ways of coping with what she cannot control. If she doesn’t do these things, then all hell breaks loose—at least, that’s what it seems like to her. Everything she does and thinks prevent her from being a normal teenage girl, and enough is enough; she must do something about it.
- Go to a therapist to work out your issues.
Therapy isn’t treated as something shameful. These characters embrace it, and are completely open to talk about being in therapy. It doesn’t perpetuate the stigmas that people shouldn’t talk about therapy or their mental health, nor does it show characters reacting awkwardly to these talks. It’s just positive and honest, and I love it.
Sometimes, people need help, and Maguire and Jordy openly seek it, and we get to see their therapy sessions and their progress. It’s realistic. They’re making steps to deal with their issues with guidance from their therapists. I feel like I’ve gotten to know a lot about Maguire’s fears and anxiety during these sessions.
- Create a list of challenges to achieve.
Maguire has a goal. She wants to be able to go to Ireland for her father’s memorial serve. At the moment, she can’t. Her belief in her bad luck isn’t going to magically disappear, but she can make steps to getting them in control. On the advice of her therapist, she makes a list of seven challenges she wants to achieve.
Her list of challenges starts out with “try out for the tennis team” and “ride in the car with someone besides her mom.” She tries out for tennis because it’s something that Maguire doesn’t know what to expect. Even though she finds it difficult to let go of her bad luck-beliefs and the fear of being not in control, she does the best she can to conquer her fear and anxiety. It may be little steps, but it’s a big achievement when she can cross out the challenges from her list. It’s really satisfying seeing Maguire do these challenges because she wants to be better, and she is doing better. She wants to not be afraid, and that’s admirable that she’s taking control.
- Meet people who are supportive.
The people Maguire meets are the type of people you’d want to be friends with.
Maguire, a loner who’s isolated herself from others due to fear and anxiety, meets Jordy Wheeler, a tennis star who is very charming and not egotistical at all. (I bet you’ll swoon over him when you meet him.) Maguire meets him at the therapist’s waiting room, and that meeting changes the both of them. (Expect some romantic moments through the course of the book.) I love that he’s struggling to figure out who he wants to be and not somebody everybody thinks he should be.
Maguire also meets Jade and Penn—girls who are on the tennis team. They don’t treat Maguire as a fragile human being who’s incapable of doing anything. They’re just there to support her, letting her know they have her back, and my god, their presence in her life and acceptance gets me a bit emotional.
- Take back control of your life.
That’s what Maguire does throughout Girl Against the Universe. She’s not gonna let the universe win. She’s gonna take back what it took from her, and you’ll be cheering for her to do so!
Should you read Girl Against the Universe? I think you should! What you get in Girl Against the Universe: a girl trying to overcome her fear and anxiety, tennis, swoon-worthy boy who’s figuring himself out, taking back what the universe took, and an honest and positive portrayal of therapy. You’ll enjoy it.