girl against the universe review

Summary: Girl Against the Universe

After a car accident — that she survives — takes the lives of her father, brother, and uncle, Maguire feels like she’s cursed.It doesn’t help that she’d been present for a string of other near-fatal (for other people) events. Maguire copes by buying different good luck charms online. She’s also seeing a therapist (to whom she barely speaks) for PTSD. Everyone seems to have moved forward from their grief — her mom has even remarried and has two kids, but Maguire can’t seem to let go.

Then she meets Jordy at her therapist’s office. Jordy has his own life issues, at the forefront of which is his teen tennis prodigy status. The two, along with an entertaining and complex cast of characters, find ways to take control of their lives.

I really enjoyed this book, and as I mentioned here, I stayed up late reading it. Maguire is a nuanced young adult protagonist. She has real mental health struggles, but isn’t as angsty as most characters in her shoes would be. I loved her relationship with her mother and the fact that the author explores survivor guilt and how it impacts Maguire’s stepfather.

More bonus points for a young adult novel that normalizes therapy (We Are the Perfect Girl also does this) and tackles grief in such a unique setting. I was concerned that this book would be a “love fixed me” kind of romance, but it’s not. The romance, while in focus, doesn’t fix Maguire, but creates a supportive environment for her growth. I also liked that Jordy was not a manic-pixie dream boy, but had issues of his own too.


Girl Against the Universe is a moving young adult novel about grief, post-traumatic stress disorder, and identity. I would recommend this novel to anyone looking for a therapy-positive YA featuring tennis and a swoony love interest.

Girl Against the Universe by @pstokesbooks is a moving young adult novel about grief, post-traumatic stress disorder, and identity. Click To Tweet

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Have you read this book or anything by Paula Stokes? What did you think? What are your favorite mental health related books? I’d love to know!

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