Sunday, May 22, 2016

"Girl Against the Universe"

Paula Stokes writes stories about flawed characters with good hearts who sometimes make bad decisions. She’s the author of several YA novels, most recently Girl Against the Universe and Liars, Inc. Her writing has been translated into eleven foreign languages. Stokes loves kayaking, hiking, reading, and seeking out new adventures in faraway lands.

She applied the Page 69 Test to Girl Against the Universe and reported the following:
From page 69:
I turn to the section of my notebook where I record all of the unlucky happenings and their outcomes and jot down a basic description.

Sept 9th. Tennis courts. While playing a practice point, I hit Jordy Wheeler with a tennis ball.

No need to be overly descriptive. It’s not like I’ll ever forget that moment.

“Hey,” a familiar voice says.

I look up to find Jordy standing over me. He’s wearing track pants and a T-shirt and his hair is damp like he just got out of the shower. Quickly, I shut the notebook.

“Luck notebook,” he reads from the cover.

I silently curse at my twelve-year-old self for being so literal. Did I really have to write that on the outside?

“Did I see my name in that?” His lips twitch.


He kicks at the toe of my flip-flop with one of his giant feet. He’s wearing the latest Nike court shoes. They probably cost more than my racquet. “I think I did.”

“Well, you think wrong. It’s a project for math class.” I slip the notebook back into my purse. “Question. Are random people laughing at you today?”
I think this excerpt from page 69 is a fairly good representation of Girl Against the Universe. GATU is the story of a girl named Maguire who has been in several bad accidents where everyone but her was injured or killed. Because of this, Maguire has developed survivor’s guilt to the degree where she now feels cursed, like she’s bad luck to people around her.

This belief has led her to develop obsessive coping mechanisms, one of which is writing down all of the bad things that happen to people around her in the notebook we see here. Jordy is the book’s other main character, an eighteen-year-old tennis prodigy who Maguire meets outside of her therapist’s office and then later at tennis practice, where he helps out with the girls’ team.

I like that her notation about hitting Jordy makes it seem like that moment isn’t as straightforward as what she writes in her notebook. (It’s not.) Despite the fact she’s a very truthful character, I like that she lies to him here because it sets up the romantic tension that’s just beginning to form between the two of them. This page also highlights their differences in social standing, and by mentioning Maguire’s twelve-year-old self, it shows readers just how long she has been struggling with her issues.
Learn more about the book and author at Paula Stokes's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Girl Against the Universe is one of Dahlia Adler's top fifteen contemporary YA books that make fabulous valentines.

The Page 69 Test: The Art of Lainey.

--Marshal Zeringue