Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes
Publisher: HarperTeen (17th May 2016)
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.
If you have seen the glorious cover of Paula Stokes’s Girl Against the Universe, you would immediately think of tennis! Well, duh. The cover is of a girl laying down on a tennis court with a racquet at her side. Pfft.
So, calling all tennis fans! Eek, finally a book that centres on tennis! Like, hello, sunshine! Check out that gorgeous cover. How clever of Harper to release this book during the clay court season, with Roland Garros just around the corner. Ooh, congratulations to Novak for claiming a Career Grand Slam and Garbiñe for winning her maiden title!
Back to Girl Against the Universe. How can I properly express my enjoyment of this book with mere words? Because I never expected to like the book that much, let alone, end up loving it after I flipped the last page!
Here’s the lowdown of what you can expect from Girl Against the Universe. Maguire (such a unique name for a female protagonist) believes that she’s bad luck. Either that or she’s the laughing stock of the universe because she has had experienced several traumatic life events, one of which left her fatherless and brotherless. Determined to move on and go against what the universe has in store for her, Maguire takes on challenges that would ultimately get her out of her shell and embrace life again.
AND ONE OF THE CHALLENGES IS TO MAKE THE SCHOOL’S TENNIS TEAM. The first part of the book focuses on how Maguire comes to terms with settling herself into school and joining the tennis team, only to meet this charismatic guy who, unbeknownst to her, is a tennis star. JORDY WHEELER, everybody. Can I get a whoop whoop for Maguire’s lover? (Totally inappropriate but heck, he was charming as heck!) Anyone wants to get me ice cream?
“The world is full of holes and uneven seams, wrinkled places that you can’t make smooth, no matter how hard you try.”
If you’re not a fan of tennis, then maybe the first part of the book might be a bit confusing for you as there will be descriptions of tennis, how the game works, the types of shots, etc. But if you don’t mind, then it’s cool because the story focuses on how Maguire gets out of her comfort zone and living life as her own being and not being afraid of what the universe throws at her.
Girl Against the Universe is also a story of friendship. I enjoyed the portrayal of the different types of friendships Maguire has in the book, especially with Jordy because it started off as strangers and then I loved the part where they did their challenges with one another which was really sweet. I also liked the relationship between Maguire and her stepfather, which was tender and really heartwarming as they come to terms with Maguire losing her father and her stepfather trying to be there for her as a father figure.
The romance in the book is sweet like fluffy marshmallows wading in a cup of hot chocolate. Ain’t that cute, imagining those tiny, soft clouds of deliciousness bobbing up and down in a pool of delectable molten chocolate? I couldn’t get enough of Maguire and Jordy and the part which made my heart soar was when she took him rock climbing. Oh, my heart, set forth and fly, you little frozen thing!
The only slight issue I had was with the length of the book. As much as I loved the story, it was a teeny bit too long for me. I wish there was a few short chapters on Maguire’s trip to Ireland because there was such a build up throughout the book, I was so tempted to read about Ireland!
Girl Against the Universe is definitely one of my favourite books this year because it’s a glorious blend of tennis, first love, friendship and family. Paula Stokes delivered this winner that was so heartwarming and inspiring, I rooted for Maguire and Jordy from the start. Highly recommended if you’re looking for a delectable contemporary romance to sink your teeth into. Game, set, match, Paula Stokes.
I’d like to thank MPH Distributors for a copy of Girl Against the Universe in exchange for an honest review.