[664]: Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes

22297294 Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes
HarperTeen | May 17th, 2016
Young Adult | Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Maguire is 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 the roller coaster jumped off its tracks. Or the time the house next door caught on fire. Or that time her brother, father, and uncle were all killed in a car crash—and Maguire walked away with barely a scratch.

It’s safest for Maguire to hide out in her room, where she can cause less damage and avoid new people who she could hurt. But then she meets Jordy, an aspiring tennis star. Jordy is confident, talented, and lucky, and he’s convinced he can help Maguire break her unlucky streak. Maguire knows that the best thing she can do for Jordy is to stay away. But it turns out staying away may be harder than she thought.

Imagine being overcome with fear at the thought of being in public; or going through the motions of making sure there are no hazards before starting any tasks – even menial ones. Imagine believing in every superstition that would prevent any possible disasters that could happen to those around you. Imagine such a life.

Maguire Kelly lives that life day in and day out. The accident that took the lives of her father, brother and uncle was only the beginning of all the bad things that made her believe she was cursed. There was also the roller coaster incident, the sleep-over incident, and the neighbour’s house burning down incident. Ever since then, she isolated herself from people; convinced she’s the harbinger of bad fortune. She walks around with a journal chronicling every single incident that she blames herself for.

Maguire lives a sad, lonely life.

During her therapy session, she meets a boy who would help her with some of the challenges she’d set out to do. And as she learns to deal with her fear, she’ll learn that courage comes from accepting things that she can’t control.

My Thoughts

I used to be so terrified of sleeping when I have a headache. I always think –  what if I have a brain aneurysm? What if I don’t wake up? I would fight it off and refused to take any aspirins. I would lay there wide awake, thinking of what would happen should I die. What would my husband do? Would he get married right away? What would happen to our kids? Will they forget about me? My thoughts processes would just snowball from there. So I can relate to Maguire (to some extent). I know what it’s like to be overcome with fear – irrational, though as they may be. I can’t even begin to imagine what she goes through every day. The amounts of checks and double checks she must do to placate and silence her fears. And to live a very lonely life because you think you’re doing the world a favour. My heart went out to her.

Thankfully, Maguire had herself a very good support system. The people around her understood her, love her, and made sure she was comfortable with whatever she was doing. I especially love her family – her mother whom, although would seem a little out of touch with her daughter’s needs at first, was there for her anytime she needs it. Her adorable half-sister who adores her unconditionally. Her step-father who only ever wanted to be a part of her life. And of course, her small circle of friends.

Paula Stokes’ portrayal of a girl suffering from a number of mental illness was very well done. Maguire realistically showed us what it would be like to live with that kind of trauma that led to her obsessive compulsion. I easily identified myself suffering the same kind of irrational fear from time to time. Sometimes, I get this feeling that I left my boy in the car, so I would check to make sure even though I know for sure I didn’t.

Maguire is also a positive role model even though she’s a little broken. She’s got a great attitude despite everything. She showed great courage and faced every single challenge head on. And the presence of a supportive family structure is wonderful and almost rare in YA.

Overall, I’m so glad I finally read this book. The thought of missing out on this great story is unthinkable. I love the tentative and gradual romance between Maguire and Jordy. They both had issues to work through so I’m glad they both realized how important it was to resolve those first before anything. Girl Against the Universe is wonderful, tender and very sweet. It’s about a girl’s courageous attempt to live a fearless life. Triumph is the sum of small braveries and Maguire is the perfect example of why we should never quit.

  • So glad you really liked this one. I hadn’t heard the first thing about it until now. I normally do like YA, and a good family. Mental illness sometimes bothers me, but this one doesn’t sound that bad, This is a maybe someday I think. Heading to Amazon to add it to my wish list 🙂

  • But.. but.. aw. I did not like this book much at all, lol 🙂 But aw, I am pretty excited that you ended up loving it a bunch 😀 YAY! Gorgeous review sweet girl. <3 Hugs.

  • I’ve only read glowing reviews for this book! It’s time I get it. I would definitely love this story just for the support system of her family and friends. I always love that in books.

  • Keertana @ Ivy Book Bindings

    Yes, I totally agree with you on this and am so glad you enjoyed it! This book is so unique and precious and I just want more teens and young adults to read it and feel less alone about their anxiety and other mental illnesses they’re facing. Beautifully written, as always, Joy!

  • Jazmen

    I keep hearing how good this book is, definitely on my TBR. Nice review, Joy!

  • I am glad this one was such a good portrayal and was done incredibly well. I have this one so I am looking forward to it. I have read her book Liars Inc and I quite liked it, so I am eager to see what she has to offer here as well.

  • Aneurysym would be the best way to go for me. Instantaneous with no pain. Boom! Sayonara bitches!

  • Wow–I really want to read this book now. I’ve read THE ART OF LAINEY, but that was more of a cute contemporary while this one seems a lot deeper. Great review! Can’t wait to pick this one up 😀

    Rabiah @ Confessions of a Readaholic

  • I have this book on my TBR since the beginning of this year and I’m surprised I haven’t heard about it much. Your review was lovely and now I want to read it even more. 🙂

  • A family present? Whaaaat`? But yes good, they are so far in between these days

  • shootingstarsmag

    Sounds like a wonderful read. I’m glad to see that she has a support system within her own family, as you’re right, that can be rare in YA fiction. Not every teen has a good family, but many do, so it should be portrayed sometimes!


  • I might have passed on this one but it really does sound like a book I would enjoy. I love that her attitude is positive (I would have worried about excessive drama) and a supportive family. This sounds like a good book for being in the world now. 🙂

  • This book has been at the top of my list since it first came on the scene. I’m so ready to read it, and I think I’ll have a lot in common with the protagonist. Great review!

  • I for one DEF can’t imagine going through something like this and not be able to step outside without worrying about my wellbeing, not being able to have friends or really talk to anyone. 🙁 It seems like this book has ALL THE FEELS. 🙁 –>That is a smilie face of happiness because you liked the book and then of sadness because of the girl and all that. (if that made any sense at all…)

  • Maja (The Nocturnal Library)

    I haven’t read this one because it’s contemporary and not really my thing, but I am just starting Vicarious and I’m so excited about it! If I like it enough, I’ll probably read this one right after, just so I could say I’ve read everything she’s ever published.

  • Lily

    To be a hundred percent honest, like Sierra said below, the synopsis for this one initially really didn’t captivate me, and this is coming from a girl who loved Paula Stokes other books, but you have me changing my mind. I like how Girl Against The Universe seems to explain away other alternative support systems rather than just a cliche romance and that the MC actually has good people around her who love and support her.

  • Karen

    I’ve seen this a few places but didn’t realize what it was about. It sounds like something I would love.

    Karen @For What It’s Worth

  • I have seen this book around (I think I even posted about a pre-order deal for it), but for some reason I never really checked it out, and I didn’t realize what it was about. Now I definitely want to read it, so thanks so much for bringing it to my attention!!

  • The synopsis didn’t really draw me in. It seemed like another one of those ‘girl has mental illness, girl meets boy, boy cures her!’ But your review changed that for me! I’m so glad that it also focuses on alternative support systems. I can get a tad agoraphobic, so I can definitely relate to the MC (to some extent). Mental illness is SUCH a bully! I will definitely be putting this on my TBR. Thanks for a wonderful recommendation, Joy!

  • thebookishuniverse

    Im so glad this was a great read! Its sounds very interesting x

  • kindlemom1

    I love books and characters you can relate to, on any level. Glad this was such a good read for you Joy! Have a wonderful weekend!

  • Adriana C

    I also read and enjoyed very much this story and I´m also glad that I read it.
    Great review Joy!