The Unsung Wallflower

Have you ever met someone who struggles to fit in? Someone who feels anxious when being around normal people? It depends on how you define “normal”, but still, I’m talking about the people who feel excluded in one way or another.

Regardless if you know them or might even be one of them, these people seem shy, guarded, socially awkward and sometimes feel confused. Trust me, this is only what you see from the outside! Behind closed doors, there’s a lot more profoundness to their personalities than you think.

These “outcasts” or “wallflowers” form the core characters of these books, it is noticeable how these individuals evolve and grow along the way. The turn of events certainly took me by surprise in each of these books.

Paris for One and Other Stories by Jojo Moyes

You may have heard of Jojo Moyes from the romance novel “Me before You” which had us all cry our eyes out, whether while reading the book or watching the movie. She presents a heartwarming and inspiring romantic fiction that tells a story about Nell, who’s never been the adventurous or the spontaneous type, but when she decides to travel for the first time to Paris with her boyfriend and to spend a romantic getaway together, he doesn’t show up to the station.

Nell’s story with her boyfriend is considered a one-sided relationship, where she’s the one giving everything she possibly can to keep him close to her, while he can’t even show up to a planned trip that she booked on her own expense for both of them. She had two choices, either to go to Paris and dread the whole trip, or to prove everyone wrong and make the most out of it.

I was impressed by the growth of Nell’s character throughout the book. Knowing that she’s a naïve and cautious person who never takes any chances, but somehow she ends up alone in Paris, enjoying every minute of it with a care-free attitude and even indulging in a new liaison.

Along with the main story of “Paris for One”, the author included other short stories, making them brief but pleasant and straight to the point.

You just destroy the thing you love. By weighing it down.

Jojo Moyes

This was a light and easy read! Jojo Moyes’ writing style is persuasive, opening a path for the readers to relate to the main character.

If you’re in for a quick romantic read by the beach, at the park or even at home, I would definitely recommend it!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

I finished reading this book around three weeks ago and at some point I couldn’t let the book down; the anticipation was too high, especially when I was halfway through it. Inspired by Jennifer Niven’s own life events, comes this exciting love story about two high school students – Libby & Jack. What caught my attention is the fact that it revolves around both characters equally in a first-person narration — this hugely impacted my attachment to each of them.

Libby is known for being “America’s Fattest Teen” back when her mom had just passed away and food was the only way she could fill her void. Since her loss, she has been home-schooled, but it all changed when she decided to go back to school a few years later. Her ambition and goals are bigger than her and I could tell you that for a teenage girl, she’s tougher than anyone else around her – she knows what she wants and nothing will stand in her way, not even Jack…

Jack is the cool kid with the laid-back attitude and the charm that makes every girl at school interested. But there’s more to him than what meets the eye; it’s not only about his personality and intelligence, but more about his aptitude. The author gave much more depth to his character at first, leading me to relate and get attached to it much more than Libby’s, but by the end of the book, the opposite happened.

No one can lock you back in, Libby. You choose whether you let them.

Jennifer Niven

The love story between Libby & Jack is heartfelt, especially that they started off as practical enemies, but they took their time to actually “see” each other. Libby’s character seems gullible at first, but she will surprise you. So my advice is to keep on reading!

It is a cute and easy read, I think my teenage self would’ve immersed even more with the narrative. Nevertheless, this is one sweet love story!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Girl he Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

This romantic novel revolves around Annika who’s a student at the University of Illinois. She’s a wallflower, always anxious when around people and prefers to spend time on her own, reading her books in the library or playing chess in the university’s club. Jonathan, a new member to the chess club, who not only loses his first game to Annika but also his heart along the way.

He understands her like no one else ever could, sees through her awkwardness and helps her overcome her own challenges. In this relationship, he was the one who’s always giving and making sure that Annika is comfortable and at ease even in social gatherings, putting himself second in many situations for the sake of his love for her.

The love they shared was incomparable, but circumstances changed, which led them to grow apart and eventually their relationship reached the end of the tunnel. Ten years later, they’re reunited in Chicago and all I can say can be summed up in one sentence: “what’s meant to be will find its way!”. Annika had to take things in her own hands and prove to Jonathan that she’s not the same person anymore, that she can take care of herself, but will she be able to outgrow herself?

It’s a hard pill to swallow when you have to admit, even to yourself, that you were wrong about the person you were certain was perfect for you.

Tracey Garvis Graves

I can’t even begin to explain how much I liked this novel, from the author’s writing style to the characters and plot, it just ticked all the boxes for me.

Tracey Garvis Graves surely knew how to build up the suspense with her writing in this one. I remember finishing the book earlier than expected!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

In these fictional books, there’s growth in these shy and naïve characters when they’re placed in certain situations. Do you believe people are genuinely capable of change in real life? I would love to hear your thoughts!

I’m planning to add some of these authors’ newest books to my TBR, let me know if you have any recommendations in the comments below!