Girl Against the Universe

Paula Stokes. HarperTeen, $17.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-06-237996-2
In a romance built around tennis and psychotherapy, Stokes (Liars, Inc.) introduces high school junior Maguire Kelly, who believes that she causes terrible things to happen to everyone around her, and has isolated herself following a series of tragedies. Maguire’s attitude softens, slightly, after she meets a young tennis star, Jordy, in the lobby of their therapist’s office. With help from her therapist, Maguire assembles a list of goals for regaining a social life (including making the tennis team) and a road map for overcoming the debilitating belief that she is cursed. The bad luck that continues to follow her (a tennis mishap with Jordy, an unfortunate fall by his sister, etc.) can feel like interruptions to this otherwise engaging story. Though Maguire’s struggle with her perceived bad luck is meant to be the plot’s key hook, its true appeal lies with Stokes’s well-developed characters—Maguire’s caring family, her new best friend, her insightful therapist—and in the way Maguire and Jordy support each other’s efforts to conquer the challenges they face. Ages 13–up. Agent: Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/14/2016
Release date: 05/01/2016
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-0-06-237997-9
Ebook - 416 pages - 978-0-06-237998-6
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