Living alone for the last 10 years has pushed Annika Rose, a woman on the autism spectrum, toward independence. Yet bumping into Jonathan Hoffman, her college sweetheart, in the frozen food section of their local grocery store sparks hope for something more.
This novel is a strongly character-driven work ... The story builds piece by piece, alternating perspectives between each of the two main characters as narrators while also alternating timelines between the past and present. This structure of the book, including the short chapters, keeps the reader turning pages swiftly and wanting more. The language is so simple and spare at points that it cuts right to the quick, immersing the reader in the highs and lows of Annika and Jonathan’s relationship. Although the writing is beautifully done, I did have a hunch of where the story was going fairly early on in the novel...however, this did not detract from the story. Rather, I found myself being pulled along, wanting to see what was going to happen and find out if I was correct in my suspicions. And there were still certainly surprises that I found along the way. All in all, Graves creates a pair of incredibly lovable characters here. You will find yourself wanting to be friends with them, perhaps go on a double date ... I definitely recommend this novel. It is one of the best and most unique love stories I have read recently.
Graves...uses short chapters to keep the pages turning as the narrative alternates between college-age Annika and Jonathan falling in love in the early 1990s to the two of them seeing how they fit into each other’s life in 2001. The pace slows as the cause of their breakup—and the physical and emotional toll the events took on Annika—are explored, then quickens again for the 9/11-set climax. Graves’ specialty is making complicated lives compelling; give this to readers who like earlier Kristin Hannah or Barbara Delinsky’s sensitively, romantically drawn characters.
Telling the story primarily from Annika’s perspective, Graves...mirrors Annika’s own logical, concrete thought patterns with straightforward sentence structure and minimal description. Careful to balance the emotional and intellectual power between Annika and Jonathan, Graves creates a believable love affair in which Annika is not infantilized but rather fully realized as simply different ... A heartwarming, neurodiverse love story.