Girl Against the Universe Book Talk


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.



I gave Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes 5/5 stars.

If anyone remembers my review of Scarlet Epstein Hates it Here and I claimed it was my favorite new YA Contemporary of 2016, well meet the book that is sharing that title. I haven’t seen a lot of people talking about Girl Against the Universe yet, but with it only coming out on May 17th, it is still early, but I can see this book blowing up later on this summer and early fall.

I don’t know where to start talking about GATU, so I’m going to start with the cover/dust jacket. Personally when I received my copy of GATU in my May Uppercase Box I was instantly drawn to the colors used on the cover. It’s this mixture of orange and yellow with bolder yellow lines that shape a tennis court with Maguire our female protagonist lay down. Honestly, it is simple and easy, but is one of my favorite covers I’ve seen in a long time. Now for me personally it gets even better once you take off the dust jacket, because you are left this bold yellow cover, but the tennis court lines are imprinted into the cover! I am a huge fan when publishers put details into the cover under the dust jacket. I don’t my hardcover books with dust jackets on, so I like when the cover is decorated some.

Alright, enough about me geeking out over the cover and lets get into the story itself! If you’re a fan of Jenny Han or Nicola Yoon, I truly think that you will enjoy GATU. I truly feel that Paula Stokes share a similar writing style to both Jenny Han and Nicola Yoon in GATU, in a sense that the writing felt very welcoming and brought me into the story right from the start.  As I read, I felt the pain that Maguire was feeling, the confusion of Maguire’s emotions and struggle to try to get past her PTSD and other mental health issues streaming from her tragic past. I also really liked the use of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in the novel instead of more extreme measures or the use of medication. I personally went through  CBT to deal with my anxiety as a late teen instead of following suit with a lot of my peers to prescription drugs to deal with my issues. Now, I’m not putting down prescription drug use, cause I know it does wonders for a lot of people. I personally just like CBT and was very happy to see it be used and talked about in YA literature.

I really think GATU is a great read for any young person dealing with a mental illness of some sort. Paula Stokes did a great job addressing the issues of mental health that it didn’t come off that she was writing a helpless or crazy character, but a real teen struggling to get herself to who she wants to be and have better control over her mental health. I’ve seen plenty of cases in YA in which characters with mental health issues are usually written to be helpless or crazy, so having Maguire who is a strong young woman working to move pass her mental illnesses, it was a breath of fresh air.

Honestly, stop what you’re doing right now and go get a copy of Girl Against the Universe and start reading it. And if you don’t like it…well you’re entitled to that opinion and really my opinion and yours is not always going to match, but I think you will like this one.


About the Author:

Paula Stokes

Paula Stokes is the author of several novels, most recently Girl Against the Universe and Liars, Inc., the latter of which received a starred review from Kirkus. Her writing has been translated into eleven foreign languages. Paula loves kayaking, hiking, reading, and seeking out new adventures in faraway lands. She also loves interacting with readers.


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