Review: Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes || This ain’t Wii sports

Girl Against the Universe

Paula Stokes

girl against the universe paula stokes

From the author of The Art of Lainey and Liars, Inc. comes a fresh, contemporary story about a girl coping with PTSD and the boy who wants to help her move on from the past.

Sixteen-year-old Maguire knows the universe is against her. No matter how many charms she buys off the internet or good luck rituals she performs each morning, horrible things happen when she’s around. Like that time the roller coaster jumped off its tracks. Or the time the house next door caught on fire. Or the time her brother, father, and uncle were all killed in a car crash–and Maguire walked away with barely a scratch. 

Despite what her therapist tells her, Maguire thinks it’s best to hide out in her room, far away from anyone she might accidentally hurt. But then she meets Jordy, an aspiring tennis star who wants to help her break her unlucky streak. Maguire knows that the best thing she can do for him is to stay away, but it turns out staying away might be harder than she thought.

Publisher: Harperteen

Published: May 17th 2016

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My Review 4

Trigger Warning

PTSD, Panic Attacks


This was my first experience reading about therapy in such a positive light, not only was I surprised, everything else lived up to my already high expectations.

After a terrible tragedy in which half of Maguire’s family died and she was the only one not hurt, she thinks she’s bad luck. And it’s gotten worse over the years as more people get hurt and she’s left unscathed. Her therapist recommends she joins a sport and in the process, she finds friends, a cute boy and some healing.

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The therapy positive message was such a nice surprise, both Maguire and Jordy are going to therapy consistently throughout the book. The way Stokes tackles PTSD and OCD was different in a sense of portraying these illnesses outside of their stereotypes (OCD isn’t just even numbers and overt cleanliness) while keeping the light tone of the book.

And I really liked how tennis was a huge part of not only the story, but Maguire’s healing process. She had a hobby and a passion; it added to her character and the overarching story as a whole.

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Maguire was a really fun character to read about. Her thinking she’s bad luck is explained in a way where I understood it, despite it’s absurdity. And the fact that she didn’t have a guy fix all of her issues? She makes the initiative to change and get out of her bubble while still having the support of her newfound friends and family. Her mom and step-dad listen, they care and they try. And it’s heartwarming.

The mean girl trope was turned on it’s head with them not only being rivals in tennis, but becoming friends and not fighting over a guy? Kimber and Jordy’s friendship isn’t what you think, yet that’s not the main reason for their rivalry. They become friends and support each other and it’s glorious

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And of course, there’s a very sweet romance. Jordy is pretty straight-forward about his feelings towards Maguire and he shows patience and understanding in her time of healing and insecurities. They were cute together ❤ .

My biggest issue was the climax or… conflict scene towards the end? The way things were going, Jordy’s reasoning for being mad at her rubbed me the wrong way; it’s kind of laughable. It was just such a small situation that was blown out to bigger proportions, it felt like there needed to be a conflict and this was the only thing that was thought out.

Even though I bought this on a very spontaneous whim, this is such a rereadable, sweet book that I’ll hopefully be returning to soon.

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