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Book Review: “Girl Against the Universe” by Paula Stokes


Paula Stokes is my favorite author because like I’m always saying, she can write about anything! Her variety when it comes to book genres is what makes me a huge fan of her work. I’ve read almost all of her books, and today I’m reviewing the first book I read by her. My star rating is 5/5. Girl Against the Universe is a special book for me because it tackles the mental health issue in a great way. You can tell the author took her time to do research when presenting the story’s issue. As a reader, I appreciate that. The genres included in this book are young adult, contemporary, romance, mental health, sports, and realistic fiction. If you are looking for a fun and loving contemporary read, I highly recommend this book.


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.


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. Mental illness is serious, and the author surely shows that while 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. They support each other inside and outside of therapy and do not pretend everything is fine. I highly recommend Paula Stokes’ books because they always have a powerful message or something to learn from. Girl Against the Universe will take you through the process of dealing with PTSD, the importance of family relationships when it comes to grieving, and the highs and lows of falling in love when you feel everything is falling apart.

As a doctoral psychology student, I appreciate the mental illness representation in this book. The fact that it involves therapy and family relationships makes it realistic and relatable. I can honestly say Stokes does her research when writing about a character. I remember when she wrote to me because she was writing about a Puerto Rican character. She even sent me a menu from a Puerto Rican restaurant near her! The thing is, I consider her a complete author. Paula Stokes has written books about romance, fiction, mystery, thriller, science fiction, contemporary, fantasy, historical fiction, young adult, new adult… like I said, everything! She’s a mental health registered nurse and a crisis line volunteer. So I bet she was passionate when writing all 17 of her books, especially Girl Against the Universe.

Mariely is a PhD student in School Psychology at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus. She loves spending time with her family and their dogs named Gabo and Bebo. Mariely is always practicing sign language, reading, crafting, writing, watching movies or blogging! You can find her under a pile of books on her Instagram.
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