Girl Against the Universe

Girl Against the Universe

by Paula Stokes


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062379979
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 06/06/2017
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 346,245
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.30(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 13 Years

About the Author

Paula Stokes is the author of Hidden Pieces; This Is How It Happened; Girl Against the Universe; Liars, Inc.; and The Art of Lainey. Paula lives in Portland, Oregon. You can find her online at or on Twitter and Instagram @pstokesbooks.

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Girl Against the Universe 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 33 reviews.
tayberryjelly More than 1 year ago
This review originally appeared on Maguire Kelly has been through more than her fair share of tragedy and bad luck. A fatal car accident, a freak roller coaster crash and a myriad of smaller injury-causing incidents where she emerged unscathed have convinced her that she is cursed. Resolved to save those around her, Maguire isolates herself, avoiding public spaces and repeating a set of good luck practices throughout the day When a chance to learn more about her Irish family becomes a seemingly impossible plane ride away, Maguire takes control of her future with the help of a very patient therapist and a cute teen tennis star, Jordy, who has been damaged by the spotlight. First and foremost, Girl Against the Universe is a stunningly honest depiction of mental illness. Maguire’s PTSD and anxiety jump off the page, feeling real and tangible as I navigated with her on her journey. Stokes takes anxiety and renders its emotional and physical so beautifully with words that are as inspiring as they are relatable. Anyone who has been through, is currently experiencing or knows someone who has been through PTSD or anxiety should read this book for a light-hearted yet thoughtful handling of the topic. I can see this book being a real conversation starter about mental illness, and I plan on recommending it to some of my friends. Structure-wise, the novel was perfectly paced and a perfect length. The combination of chapters following Maguire’s life and her progress in therapy worked exceptionally well. The twists and turns were well timed. Each cliffhanger left me wanting more and turning the page. This novel was written in a way that reflected its stellar story, and was a joy to read from start to finish. Character development is the strength of this novel. Maguire’s voice is one of the strongest, most lyrical, most honest voices I have encountered in YA. It was inspiring to find an ordinary girl narrator who was open to discovering her own inner power, and I found her to be equally relatable and likable. Jordy twists the average shallow teen sports star trope into a boy who is vulnerable, emotional and undeniably kind. It was a treat to watch their romance blossom and their eventual love for each other felt earned. One of my favorite characters was Dr. Leed/Daniel the therapist. His character doesn’t change so much as Maguire’s perception of him does, but it was so much fun to see her open up to him bit by bit. If there were an award for Best Unintentional Matchmaker in YA, he would be my top nominee. The depiction of his character also felt like an important reminder that therapists aren’t scary. They’re average people with special training to help others, an important message for the teens (and everyone else…and me) that read this book. The secondary characters were also handled with care and this was one the few books where no stone was left unturned when it came to character development. Each had their own voice and stood their own on the page. From Kimber, the over-protective and intense tennis player, to Penn, Jordy’s perky auto-enthusiast sister, these characters brightened the story and made the read even more enjoyable. Overall, Maguire’s challenging of her seemingly endless bad luck was a spectacular read, and there isn’t a single part of this novel that I didn’t enjoy. This novel has become, and will remain, one of my favorites in a long time. It’s a rare gem of a story.
Samantha05 More than 1 year ago
Short and Sweet: If you don’t want to read the part of my review that’s more personal, here’s the quick version of my thoughts on this book: Girl Against the Universe is a must-read for anyone who has ever needed healing, anyone who loves athletics and team friendships, and anyone who enjoys a slow and fiery burn romance. Recommend 10000 times over. To Elaborate…. Maguire believes she is cursed with bad luck. Not bad luck like missing a bus or losing a shirt, but life and death bad luck where those around her have a tendency to get killed or hurt, starting with several members of her family dying in a car crash she walked away from unscathed. When she meets Jordy, a fellow therapy-goer and tennis star, they decide to help each other with a few challenges, but Maguire is all too aware of how dangerous things can happen when people get close to her. Maguire deals with PTSD, panic attacks, and other related mental illnesses, and a good portion of her story revolves around going to therapy and doing personal challenges to help her heal. I deal with severe depression and anxiety, and I’ve been to therapy many times, so I immediately felt a close connection to Maguire. What I didn’t expect was the way her healing and her mindset mirrors my own in many ways. Maguire is very self aware, often recognizing when her thoughts or thought patterns aren’t healthy, but still believing them on a level that strongly effects her. She feels an intense desire to control the space around her, which is horribly difficult because no one can control the Universe. One of the ways Maguire’s story is so special is because of her willpower. There are many times she feels weak and scared, and there are many times she responds to those emotions in a negative way. However, she challenges herself to keep going. A method of therapy used in this book (which rings extremely true, as I’ve used similar techniques) involves setting a big goal and creating several steps (or even mini-goals) to work yourself up to being ready for the big one. This of course doesn’t mean that the accomplishment of the Big Goal will solve everything, and that there will be no more panic attacks or rough times. A prominent message for anyone with mental illness is that there will be good and bad days no matter what. Therapy can accomplish many things, one of which is restructuring your thought process and coping methods so that the bad days can be handled in a healthy manner. As I’m still going through my own healing process, I had a resounding thought while reading Maguire’s story: This is it. This is what I want my own healing to look like. Healing is different for everyone, but what I find so meaningful in Maguire’s is the way she starts to work with her fear and slowly, very slowly, accepts both that she cannot control the Universe but also that the Universe can’t control her. Some days, I feel as powerful as Maguire is, ready to choose happiness and lean on my support system when necessary. Other days, I am Maguire hiding in her room, under the blankets with a book, knowing that one room absent of other people is far easier to control than the rest of the world. Either way, Maguire has without a doubt become a character that feels like a friend, one I will likely find myself turning to again and again when I need to. Moving away from the mental health part of the story, and on a much lighter note, this book has one of the best romances I’ve read in a long time. Both Jordy and Maguire a
Kami-C More than 1 year ago
I love this! Paula is such a great writer! First off, I love the cover! You don't see many books with that color of a cover! The format of this book is great! The chapters aren't too long which I appreciate! It is nice how Maguire and Jordy don't fall in love instantly! Usually in contemporary books with the character having problems, I don't like the main character that much but this surprised me and I actually liked Maguire!
KatherineMaria More than 1 year ago
Paula Stokes is fabulous, but this is probably the most-fabulous of everything she has written. I enjoy all of her books, but this one really blew me out of the water. I stayed up all night reading it. It's a great blend between light and heavy - dealing with heavy content in a light-ish way without downplaying the seriousness of anything. Honestly it is a feat of balance and she pulls it off. Super cute without being cutesy, fun without detracting from the seriousness of it, and an all around well-written book. Buy it for yourself, your niece who likes to read, your neighbor who is having a birthday but you don't know what to get them - this is a great book for anyone you like. I don't give five star reviews, but this was earned. Great for fans of Paula Stokes other books, as well as fans of Morgan Matson, Jenny Han, Sarah Dessen, Emery Lord etc.
CaptainsQuarters More than 1 year ago
Ahoy there me mateys! Now I am not a big YA contemporary fan. When I read YA, I tend to read sci-fi or fantasy books. Occasionally I will read some historical fiction. But I have to admit that the cover for this one is what drew me in. Something about how she is sprawled on the court just made me laugh. Plus the title is silly. The premise of the book is that a teen named Maguire knows she is cursed. Bad things keep happening and the only common denominator happens to be her. So she tries to stay away from other people at all costs and fears to get close to anyone. Her mom sends her to a new therapist for help. I read this book hoping to have a fun, light-hearted read and ended up with a deeper read than I expected. It begins with Maguire’s therapy sessions and then slowly branches out to the rest of her life. Maguire is obviously suffering from PTSD and has repetitive coping behaviors. She is utterly convinced of her curse. But with her therapist’s help she comes up with a series of personal challenges to work through her fears and help her accomplish the goal of going on a trip with her mother that involves flying. I absolutely loved that therapy is shown in a positive light. Maguire’s therapist uses cognitive behavioral therapy in a non-cookie cutter approach. One of the challenges is to join a tennis team. It is here that the book shines. Part of that is because the author sets up characters that seem stereotypical – like the hot evil jock girl and then upsets yer expectations. I loved that these teens did have some depth to them. At the same time the characters were also light and fun. Maguire’s friendships ended up being one of the highlights of the book. A lot of the humor in the book shines in these moments. I thought Maguire was a great protagonist and I really did care about her journey to towards improvement. Her relationship with Jordy was sweet and he ended up being kinda adorable. I thought the trope used would annoy me but it ended up being fine. I did appreciate that friendship became the focus of their relationship. I also liked that Maguire’s relationship towards her mom and step-dad highlighted some lovely bonding moments. Maguire learns that her perceptions of them weren’t accurate. Grown-ups have fears and worries too. Also Maguire’s mom learns that her daughter has been keeping things from her and how this is handled was deftly done. It was realistic and wonderful. I am not saying that this book is perfect. Maguire does manage to overcome her fears in a very short time-frame with many challenges being met on the first try. The boy she likes does happen to be a bit too perfect for her and she needs his help to “fix” her problems. In general, all the parents overall are too absent. And the friendships and adjustments to Maguire’s new life sometimes seemingly fall right into place. And yet the humor, characters, and writing kept me engaged. I thought that this was a very fun read and yet also a thoughtful one as well. I got more than I expected from this one and so that was cool. I am glad I took a chance on this contemporary. Arrr!
sarabara081 More than 1 year ago
I first read Girl Against the Universe in 2015 under the working title, Bad Luck Charm. It was in the very early stages but I instantly adored the characters and the story. Re-reading the final version later on has been such an experience. I’m not a huge rereader but this was a whole different experience because the story had evolved. Details are not my thing so a year in between reads left it a little hard to pinpoint all the specific changes but a few definitely stood out. Once I picked up my new copy the excitement came back to me. Everything felt smoother and more refined. The flow had changed. And even though the specific details were fuzzy, I could feel the difference in the vibe. I honestly didn’t think I could love it more than I did the first go around. What I enjoyed the most was the journey the main character Maguire makes. She is suffering from PTSD after a traumatic accident that took 3 family members away from her. It has deeply affected her ability to do everyday things like driving in cars and socializing with others. She had connected a few bad events that happened in her life and rationalized that she was the cause. So we watch her journey as she works through her problems and meets a cute boy along the way. Jordy was quite amazing and I adored these two together, but I appreciated that this really was Maguire’s tale and her problems were things she needed to work on for herself. The secondary characters were amazing as well! I already mentioned my love for Jordy but I also really loved Maguire’s new tennis friend, Jade. Speaking of characters, I had the privilege of naming a character or two, or kinda three! I wasn’t sure at first what name I would go with and what minor character I’d mess with from the original draft. But when I saw Maguire had a little brother named ‘Jacob’ and also a little sister with a name that started with an ‘E’ it felt obvious to me. So I named the little sister after my daughter, Erin. My middle child is Jacob so it fit real well. Two of my kids in the book! Paula, being the amazing person she is, decided to add one more so all three of my children were represented. So later on in the novel you meet ‘Shawn’. I cannot recommend this novel enough. If you enjoy well written characters, life journeys, and cute romances this is definitely the book for you!
MakennaFournier More than 1 year ago
Out of the four of Paula Stokes books that I have read so far, this one was my least favorite sadly. There were two main things that made me enjoy this book less, the first being that I didn't really love Jordy. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with him, in fact, I think me not liking him just reflects on the fact that I don't like the super nice love interests in books. I don't know what that says about me... but yeah. The other thing that just didn't resonate with me like I hoped it would was Maguire's anxiety. I think the representation of the anxiety was good, in fact, I 100% recommend this book to anyone who likes to read about main characters with anxiety. For me personally though, I couldn't connect with it much (and like how I had the issue with Jordy, I will say it definitely reflects on the fact that I have anxiety, and I am very picky about it in books). Overall, this one wasn't quite for me, but I still thought it was a decent read and would recommend it.
Take_Me_AwayPH More than 1 year ago
This book has been getting a lot of hype lately and after devouring it in about two days (two sittings) I can honestly say this hype is well deserved. I can definitely say this is going down as one of my favorite contemps of 2016. Maguire's life is hard. She believes she's bad luck. Because of this she prefers to stay in her room to ensure that everyone around her stays safe. But then one day she meets the irresistible Jordy and she can't seem to hide from him like she does from everyone else. The main thing about this that I liked was the characters. Maguire shows SO MUCH growth. There were times when I found myself cheering out loud for her because I was so excited for her. And then there was Jordy. His patience with Jordy and her illness was amazing. I was impressed that he never got frustrated or upset with her. That he just GOT IT. All the secondary characters were amazing as well and they all played an equally important part in helping the story and I enjoyed reading about them all. The there was the way the mental health was handled. As someone who has OCD and anxiety, I thought I might find this book a little hard to read. Like Maguire I find myself not wanting to drive with people in the car and sometimes I don't even want to drive long distances. I thought maybe it would be too hard to see myself in a book, but Stokes wrote it in a way where I didn't feel bad about it at all. As with any book that I love, my emotions did get the best of me, that was because I connected so much with Maguire. I knew what she was going through. I was happy that Stokes GOT IT. This is why we need stories that feature #OwnVoices. As for the romance, I was happy that it wasn't easy. With someone dealing with some of the struggles that Maguire has, the romance couldn't have been only fluff and rainbows. When they did finally hit it off, it made the wait for it so much better. I appreciated it more than what I would have in a shorter time because it felt so real. From the romance, to the mental health of the characters, just everything about this was amazing. I loved this book and I can't wait to share it with the world. If you had second thoughts about this book DON'T. Everyone should give this one a chance.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love how realistic this book is. It feels great to read a book where someone doesn't leave therapy just because they fall in love; and pretend everything is fine. Mental illness is serious, and the author surely shows that; but keeping it a light and enjoyable read :) I really like Maguire and the story between her and Jordy, is so adorable. And I don't mean it just in a romantic way, I admire how they help each other out. Long story short: One of my favorite books!
BrownEyedBookworm More than 1 year ago
*Note: ARC received from the Publisher, HarperCollins, and the Author, Paula Stokes. I was not compensated to review the book. Every opinion stated are solely mine. Girl Against the Universe (aka GATU) is a story about a seventeen year old girl, Maguire, who suffers a mental illness after her most of his family died in a car accident that she thinks happened because of her. Then, one time after her therapy sessions, she meets Jordy, the boy who asked her out for ice cream. She was faced with a list of challenges in order to reach her goal and one of it was join the tennis tryouts. Making her way with her challenges, she faced her fears to return to her old self again, the happy and fearless Maguire, with the help of her new found friends. “There’s a thing that sometimes happens in your brain when you’re the only survivor of a horrific accident. Part of you is happy because you’re alive, but the rest of you is devastated. Then the sad part beats up the happy part until nothing is left, until all you feel is terrible sorrow for the people who didn’t make it. And guilt. Guilt because you wonder if the Universe made a mistake. Guilt because you know you’re not any better than those who died.” I entirely enjoyed reading Girl Against the Universe because let’s face it, PTSD, mental illnesses and other underlying causes, and or similar cases are copiously found across this vast world. And this wholly topic is something we should give focus on since a lot of teenagers of different races suffer it. A lot of people misunderstood and underestimated mental illness for being lonely. These two cases are a lot different from each other when compared. We just have to dive deep and understand the things that people with mental illnesses go through. The story doesn’t go straight serious the whole time but a little carefree here and some serious there, sometimes light. I know I’ve mentioned light but I kind of think this book will give readers ardent feelings and sudden empowerment and hope because that’s what this book gives right? I adore how Paula wrote this book because it gives off a feeling of another chance at life to enjoy it, hope for the hopeless and power for the weak. GATU is also about friendship, and a great focus on family. I love how it came in a bundle and didn’t solely rely on romance (I did enjoyed the slow and careful romance here though it was really sweet but enough of that!). Since Maguire hasn’t really focused on meeting new friends, she strived to go against her normal solo self. She met new friends. One of them was Jade. I really loved her enthusiasm and crazy tactics. Everything about her oozes energy and fun and easy go-with-the-flow life. She actually stands out among all the other characters but not overthrowing Maguire. She’s the kind of friend who is unique among all other girls. She’s the BFF-to be. It wasn’t told but I have a hunch. Plus she’s the first person Maguire considered as her friend because she’s crazy-good and funny. “Accidentally hurting yourself is way better than hurting other people.” The slow burn romance between the two main Characters, Maguire and Jordy, was a total killer. I loved how careful and delicate it was. How real the chemistry between the two is, and how dreamy could it get more? Seriously! I’m in love in the first place they ate ice cream. Or when Maguire almost tripped. Can you feel the love tonight? Because I definitely can, still to this day! I can still vividly see in my mind how ev
SarhMack More than 1 year ago
This book was phenomenal. Maguire and her anxiety was portrayed not only well, but accurately, which is hard to find in good YA. Her journey, felt real and progressed at what felt like a natural pace, nothing felt rushed. Jordy was a wonderful addition to the story, and his relationship with Maguire was nothing short of adorable. Her therapy sessions with Dr. Leed felt natural and real. Maguires fears and the way she addressed them and dealt with them were donw so in a way that made it feel relatable. Definitely recommend this book.
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
Maguire is cursed. It all started when her brother and father died in a car crash that left Maguire without a scratch. Then there was the time a roller coaster jumped its tracks. And Maguire was fine. Everyone at a sleepover was hit with food poisoning. Except Maguire. Before their latest move, the house next door caught fire. Because Maguire had left a candle burning on her windowsill. Maguire tries to mitigate her bad luck with dozens of good luck charms and rituals. She also checks her surroundings for accident potential and tries to stay away from other people to limit the damage. She won't drive anywhere with her stepfather or stepsister because she's terrified of hurting them. Even driving with her mother is a cause for slight panic. Talking through her curse in therapy, and hoping to get past her fears so that she can visit family in Ireland, Maguire tries to make some plans to change her luck. Jordy, a lucky (cute) tennis star, is sure that he can help even as Maguire worries that her bad luck will rub off on him. Maguire is used to keeping to herself and trying to survive alone. But as she gets to know Jordy and makes other friends, Maguire starts to realize that there's more to life than just surviving in Girl Against the Universe (2016) by Paula Stokes. Stokes balances Maguire's genuine grief with bright moments of humor. Although Maguire is understandably frustrated by the limitations on her life because of her bad luck, she is still shown as a capable and strong heroine throughout. She reads a lot. She is well-versed in survival practices (forewarned, is forearmed). She's athletic with a love of rock climbing and, as she discovers during the novel, has potential as a promising tennis player. Maguire's own belief in the curse is never ridiculed. Her family and friends all try to convince her that she is suffering from survivor's guilt (not a curse) but they also respect Maguire's concerns. Both Maguire and Jordy see a therapist in Girl Against the Universe and these scenes are informative and thoughtfully portrayed as Maguire works with her doctor to figure out how she might conquer some of her bad-luck-related fears with small, practical steps building toward her dream of flying to Ireland. Maguire's growth as a character is highlighted throughout the novel with her therapy, her growing support system as she gets to know Jordy and other new friends, her changing dynamic with her family, and her time playing tennis as part of her school's team. Girl Against the Universe is an unexpected and delightful contemporary novel. A funny, heartfelt, and ultimately optimistic read. Highly recommended. Possible Pairings: Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira, Suffer Love by Ashley Herring Blake, Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum, Tumbling by Caela Carter, Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella, The Art of Holding On and Letting Go by Kristin Bartley Lenz, The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider, The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith
mollyreads More than 1 year ago
4 reasons you should read this book: MAGUIRE IS THE PERFECT ‘STRONG FEMALE CHARACTER’ Maguire is a wonderful character. She cares so much about the people around her that she’s sacrificing her entire childhood (this isn’t healthy, I’m just saying that she’s a genuinely kind person). But mainly, and this is the reason I say she is the perfect strong female character, she lets people in. She doesn’t try to solve everything on her own. Sure, she did this for a long time, but the growth of her character throughout the novel is admirable. She’s not afraid to let someone help her, even if it is a new friend or a boy she kind of likes. I think that makes her stronger than fighting everything on her own. Also, she’s Irish and Greek and has big hair just like me so I was super ecstatic about that DEALING WITH MENTAL HEALTH Mental health plays a huge (more than huge) role in this story. What is even better is the way it is handled. I’ll probably explain this horribly, but I’m going to give it a shot. I think there is this stigma with mental health, or mental ‘disorders’. There’s the image most people get in their heads of what a person with mental health issues looks like or that certain issues just don’t warrant help (i.e. young people feeling lost, not knowing what they want to do with their life), but this book breaks down that image. It shows two average teenagers, one popular and has so much going for them and one a homebody with no friends, but they both struggle with their own form of problems. And they both are brave enough to ask for help. I like that the story tells the readers that it’s okay to talk to someone, no matter how trivial you think your problems are, or what other people say, it’s okay to talk to someone about it. That got deep, but really, I think this book does a fantastic job with that and it could help so many people out there that struggle with something. THE PERFECT ROMANCE This kind of plays into my first two points but the romance is perfection. First off, it’s not insta-love (although, it does accelerate quickly, but that’s not unrealistic). At first, it’s just a crush and you get to read how their relationship grows throughout the novel — as opposed to one random outing and instantly falling in love with each other. The best part of it is that they are both willing to lean on each other and it isn’t shown as a weakness, it’s shown as a strength. There is nothing wrong with leaning on a boy (or girl) to help you through a tough time. THE WRITING & THE FEELS I absolutely love Stokes’ writing. It somehow manages to be light and fun but serious at the same time. There were times I laughed (literally, out loud) and times I almost cried (because I can’t let people see me cry ) and it was just such a wonderful rollercoaster of emotions. I also didn’t find anything to be predictable (there was one thing I saw coming, but it isn’t a huge revelation). Stokes kept surprising me right when I thought I had it figured out. There isn’t some huge plot twist at the end, what I mean is that there were certain things I thought were going to happen, but Stokes went a different direction. It was fabulous. Can I really praise this book any further? I think those 4 reasons should be enough to convince you! This book is a wonderful story of two young teenagers finding themselves by helping each other get there. I loved everything about it.
ShopeSS More than 1 year ago
When I received Girl Against the Universe in my Uppercase Box, I didn't know what to expect. Turns out, it was a read with so many emotions. The plot pulled me in right from the start, Maguire who believes she is cursed first because she was in a car accident that left her brother, father, and uncle killed and her still alive. This is followed up by other happenings that seal Maguire's belief in her being a walking bad luck charm. That is until she meets Jordy who makes her start to see that life shouldn't be lived sheltered..that sometimes it is okay to let people in and that sometimes life just happens. Paula Stokes has written the book in a unique way as it goes back and forth between Maguire's therapy sessions with Dr. Leed to her life outside of therapy. Penn, Jade, and many of the other characters were great additions to the stories helping to round out both Jordy and Maguire's characters. Overall this will have you turning the pages and experiencing a range of emotions from sadness to laughter to hope.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Girl Against the Universe was such a fun, well thought-out book. The characters were relatable and I found myself rooting for both of them to overcome their issues and find a way to be together. I loved the setting, the plot, and especially how much the characters grew throughout the story. Can't wait to read more from this author!
EllenRozek More than 1 year ago
I picked up this story on a whim, and I am so glad I did. It has a great premise, an encouraging, positive look at how therapy works and how helpful it can be, and an amazing supporting cast. Thanks to a series of catastrophic incidents that happened throughout her childhood, Maguire believes that she's cursed by the universe and spends most of her time keeping to herself so she doesn't hurt anyone else. When Jordy Wheeler, another one of her therapist's patients and a big-deal tennis player, decides to help Maguire break her unlucky streak, her world changes in a bunch of different ways. I loved Maguire and Jordy's relationship, and I loved that Jordy's conflict between his people-pleasing tennis star self and his real self was never treated as less important or secondary to Maguire's anxiety and PTSD. I loved how supportive they were toward each other, and I loved watching them talk through their problems. However, Jordy is nowhere near close to my favorite side character because there were SO MANY good side characters. Take Maguire's friends Penn and Jade, who sprang to life off the page without ever taking over the story. Their reactions to Maguire's problems were so lovely and heartening. Take Kimber, who subverted the "mean girl" trope in a way I absolutely adored. Take Maguire's family, with her loving if stressed out mother, the siblings Maguire gets along with and doesn't resent, and her stepfather Tom, who is a great example of how stepparents can and should be handled in YA. GIRL AGAINST THE UNIVERSE strikes the perfect balance between lighthearted and serious contemporary YA, and I highly recommend it. Now, to go check out the rest of the author's work!
Madison-s_Library More than 1 year ago
I thought this would be light and fluffy, about a girl whose bad luck involves paper cuts and missing the bus. But Maguire doesn't dare go near any sort of public transport and tries to avoid people altogether after a series of severe accidents that have killed her family and injured her friends, leaving her without a scratch. This book is more about mental health than little incidents, yet still retains a sense of playfulness. It's a romance, sports book and serious contemporary all rolled into one. Maguire's grief over the family she has lost and the rituals she uses to keep the people around her safe dominate her life. The book starts with Maguire in her first therapy session and a large portion of the book focuses on her setting tasks to overcome the belief that she is cursed and the reason so many bad things happen around her. It's after each therapy session that she meets the guy waiting to go next. He forges a connection with her even when Maguire constantly rebuffs him. But she can't deny being drawn to Jordy, who is balancing his own set of troubles but always has time for Maguire. This was a fun book despite the numerous darker issues it discusses. I really liked the way Maguire's concerns were handled and the way her therapy is so integral to the story. It's a frank approach to mental health and therapy, and a really positive one at that. Tennis played a large role in the book, much more of a focus than I expected, but it brings a nice balance to the story and widens its appeal. Maguire makes some really supportive friends, family is highly valued and the romance is fun (and plenty swoony). I will have no trouble recommending this book. The publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
ThinkWithin More than 1 year ago
I received this book in May's Uppercase Box and I can honestly say this is a book I NEVER would have picked up at a bookstore and thought to myself "I NEED TO READ THIS!!" No. Contemporary romance is not my go-to genre. Contemporary Young Adult is CERTAINLY not something I would usually choose to read. SURPRISE!! I immediately started reading as soon as I received it...since I couldn't decide on anything else to read at the time. And it turns out I LOVED IT!! I stayed up 'til 3am because I HAD to finish it! It had some sad undertones dealing with loss and PTSD and therapy, but there were so many other funny and sweet and romantic bits. Plus, I loved all the characters so much. I also loved the sports aspects...even though I know almost nothing about tennis. Hey, but I'm a sports lover by nature so that wasn't much of a surprise. The biggest surprise...reading this whole, entire book waiting for Maguire's next big disaster to strike, and when it finally somehow turns into a happy ending after all.
chuagavin7 More than 1 year ago
I. LOVE. THIS. BOOK! (That is all I can say.) I am gonna say more. XD The story is so good. It is beautifully crafted. The characters are amazing and relatable, especially Maguire and Jordan because their love story is
AReadingRedSox More than 1 year ago
After a past ridden with horrible accidents, Maguire is convinced that she's a bad luck charm. She does everything she can to combat the Universe--until her therapist suggests that she join the tennis team. With a million things that can go wrong, Maguire finds herself on unstable ground, until she meets Jordy, the school's biggest tennis superstar with a few problems of his own. GIRL AGAINST THE UNIVERSE by Paula Stokes is the perfect contemporary novel for readers who love sports, romance, and fantastic writing.
literarilyjess More than 1 year ago
The Universe knew I needed this book. All the stars! This is what YA should be. Real issues, characters that read like real people, and writing that doesn't condescend to its audience. (And even though I'm a good ten years older than the main character, her story did something for me too.) That's how you do it folks. I loved everything about this book. Maguire's struggles felt so real and authentic to me, and I found myself rooting for her from the first page. I often feel unsatisfied with books that tackle mental health issues because the characters don't feel authentic, but I didn't struggle with that at all. Maguire isn't some cookie-cutter YA heroine, and her struggles felt genuine. This is a book that truly handles PTSD and OCD well without reading like a textbook. Jordy was wonderful and sweet too and I like that he didn't come in to "save" Maguire - he has his own struggles with mental health, his own growing to do. It's refreshing to see characters helping each other. I also loved Maguire's family. Her mom was super supportive and Erin was adorable. But I can't finish this out without mentioning Tom. I have a special place in my heart for any book with a positive stepdad-daughter relationship (as opposed to the usual evil-stepparent tropes) and this didn't disappoint. Highly recommended!
SweetMarie-83 More than 1 year ago
Girl Against the Universe encompasses everything I love about contemporary YA: a strong heroine who I easily related to; real-life issues; emphasis on family and friendships; and a romantic relationship that’s impossible not to root for. It also went above and beyond with its realistic portrayal of mental illness and therapy. After a series of incidents where people got hurt or even killed around Maguire, she believes she’s bad luck. She stays away from people and avoids forming attachments because she’s afraid of people getting hurt. When her therapist begins assigning her ‘homework’ so she can work through her fears, things start changing for her and she slowly begins living a more normal, functional life. I loved how this book dealt with mental health, and not only how it affects the person suffering, but also the people around them. It was difficult for Maguire to open up and reveal her fears, but her new friends were understanding and patient. Not everyone gets it; with some people, when you tell them about your issues, they might think you’re crazy or that being around you is too much effort. I’ve suffered from anxiety (particularly social anxiety) and depression for years, and there have been times when I’ve needed a lot of hand holding - I can’t go out on my own, or I depend on whoever’s with me to handle certain situations. I have a small group of trusted people who understand and know when to take charge and when to quietly step back and let me exert some independence. Those parts of the book especially resonated with me because Maguire deserved those friends and deserved to have people who cared for her unconditionally. Nobody wants their own brain to be their worst enemy, but for some people that’s how it is. Maguire’s story was hopeful and inspiring as she learned to overcome years of fears and anxiety. The overall message is one that’s so important, no matter how old you are, or whether you suffer from anxiety or not: bravery comes in all different forms. It isn’t always huge gestures or putting your life in danger or conquering something major. Sometimes it’s opening yourself up to possibilities, letting people in, and taking baby steps. There’s just so much to love about Girl Against the Universe. I enjoyed the tentative relationships Maguire formed, from her therapist to Jordy to her new friends at school and even to her own stepdad. The slow burn romance between Maguire and Jordy was so much fun to watch; the obstacles they had to overcome were realistic and made it easy to believe in them as a couple. Girl Against the Universe is a beautiful story. It’s funny, emotional, romantic, and it left me with an overall hopeful feeling. I laughed and cried, and I felt so proud of Maguire and her growth. I’m a big believer that everything happens for a reason, whether you understand the reason or not, and I appreciated that theme in the book, even while Maguire worked hard to change her life and take back what the Universe had taken from her. If you’re looking for great contemporary YA with complex characters, I highly recommend Girl Against the Universe.
Theresajs More than 1 year ago
I LOVED this book!!!! I rarely read contemporary/romance books but I had heard so much about this book that I wanted to read this! This book is about a teen struggling with believing she is bad luck, blaming herself for bad things happening that those around her and yet she walks away, the biggest - an accident that took the life of her brother, father and uncle. Maguire sees a therapist and meets Jordy. And well, I won't say any more, you just need to read the book! What I found extremely refreshing in this story is that Maguire has a supportive family - her mom, younger sister, an amazing step-dad (yes, you read that correctly, a step-dad that is amazing) and friends that really fit the definition of friendship. It also deals with mental illness in a very positive way!!! This book took me on an emotional roller coaster and I still find myself thinking about this book, weeks after reading it!
YAMixtape More than 1 year ago
Our main character is Maguire. She’s been through some pretty traumatic stuff and thus has some mental issues that are causing her to become isolated in her social life and in her home life too. She’s seeing a therapist to help with this and I just absolutely loved that we got to read about a good, working relationship with her therapist. We got to follow along in her journey of being suffocated by her mental health issues to seeing how she lives with them. They don’t magically get fixed, she just learns ways to utilize what she does to where it doesn’t stop her from going out and doing. I think the list was a great way for us to follow along and also because it gave it a sense of time. Things like Maguire was going through won’t get fixed right away. This book was wonderful in treating it with the longevity it needed to make it realistic. I think stories like this are important to have in YA. It’s important to have in any book because thoughtful stories need to be told about mental health. But especially in YA where, for example, I could have read this when I was a teen. Then when I hit my early twenties and had to see a therapist, I wouldn’t have felt like I failed. Because I could have been reading about people who are going through the same thing. Yeah, my situation was not close to Maguire’s at all, but I could’ve seen therapy as the good, helpful thing it is. I hope more stories get told like this. Because it was so good and solid. Did her life instantly get better? No. She had fallbacks. She had miscommunications. That’s just life. But it improved and she learned how to work with the problems she was having to be able to actually live out in the world. I also loved the character of Jordy. Like I don’t want to say too much about him and their relationship because I truly don’t want to spoil anything, even a tiny bit. Just know that I think he was great for her and I think it was great to portray guys the way he was portrayed because they’re out there! They’re not all handsome jerks who women have to change in order for them to love the main character. He’s a just a good dude. Her relationship with her parents. Okay, so one of my biggest problems in reading YA is the absent parents. I’m not saying that all kids have parents who are around and there to take care of them all the time, that’s totally not true. I had friends who had for real absent parents. For a while I did. But I’m talking about parents who obviously are decent people and take care of their family. In YA, even those kind of parents always seem to just not give a crap what their kids are doing. What’s going on with them. It was SO REFRESHING to read a story where the parents were there. Sure she got into small disagreements with them, but she talked to her parents. They apologized, she apologized. It was so wonderful to read a story where her parents were part of it all. They weren’t just there as like, ghost authority figures. She still did teenager things cause, you know, she’s a teenager. But her relationships in her home life were also improved because of her therapy work. Tangent aside, this long review was justified. This book is really good and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed in picking it up. You should definitely check it out. I feel like going and buying copies and handing them out or leaving them in like airports or on buses or something. Now to try to get over my book hangover with a new book.
Goldenfurproductions More than 1 year ago
MY THOUGHTS I've been wanting to read this book for awhile, since the book had no cover and was titled "Bad Luck Charm". The idea behind this book sounding so interesting and I was so curious to read Maguire's story! This story was not what I expected, it was much different than what I imagined, but that's not a bad thing. I like how this book surprised my and how it handled the subject matter. Ever since her brother, father, and uncle died in a car accident, that Maguire survived, Maguire has considered herself to be bad luck. Bad things happen around her. Maguire prefer to stay at home, away from people that can be potentially hurt by just being around her. But her grandmother is having a little memorial for Maguire's father, the problem is that Maguire has to go on a plane to get there. How can Maguire go on a plane worrying that everyone on the plane will die just because she's there? So her therapist gives Maguire a homework assignment, to create a list of things that will slowly reach her goal. She starts out by playing tennis again. It's there that she makes new friends and one friend, Jordy, is a aspiring tennis star that is determined to help Maguire. For some reason I was expecting a fun contemporary (I've been in a fun contemporary mood lately), but I new I was wrong about that when the book starts off talking about the car accident. I knew this would not be a fun, chipper read. But this book did give me the feels and I did leave happy. This book touches on mental illness, a subject that has been popping up in YA recently and I hope it keeps popping up. Mental illness is a subject that needs to be talked about. Maguire believes that she's a bad luck charm that simply being around her will harm others. It made me so sad seeing how afraid Maguire was of hurting others, but at the same time you could understand what brought Maguire into thinking this. I felt like Maguire's character was very realistic, and this book didn't romanticize her mental illness. What I really like about this book was how helpful her friends were. Some people would have called Maguire crazy for having her thoughts, but her friends, which she only knows for a short while, help her. They want her to feel comfortable and they want her to be happy. They also don't rush her and make sure she okay with everything they are doing. Jordy, the love interest, also helps her so much. Jordy is also struggling with his own problems and Maguire also helps him. And, yes, I did like the romance. It's very hard to get me to like a romance, but I thought they were cute. IN CONCLUSION Overall, I enjoyed this book! It wasn't at all what I expected, but this book was able to surprise me and it gave me a wonderful read! I really liked Maguire and I loved her friends! I think this book dealt with the subject matter well and, despite the sad topics within this book, it left me with a good feeling.