Thursday, 29 May 2014
Review: The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith
Format: Trade paperback / eBook
Released: April 15th, 2014
Owen lives in the basement. Lucy lives on the 24th floor. But when the power goes out in the midst of a New York heatwave, they find themselves together for the first time: stuck in a lift between the 10th and 11th floors. As they await help, they start talking... The brief time they spend together leaves a mark. And as their lives take them to Edinburgh and San Francisco, to Prague and to Portland they can't shake the memory of the time they shared. Postcards cross the globe when they themselves can't, as Owen and Lucy experience the joy - and pain - of first love. And as they make their separate journeys in search of home, they discover that sometimes it is a person rather than a place that anchors you most in the world.
I have a varied reading relationship with Jennifer E. Smith's books. I absolutely loved The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight but thought This is What Happy Looks Like was only okay. The Geography of You and Me falls somewhere between those two books, and it's my second favourite of her books I've read so far.
Jennifer E. Smith has a knack for writing romantic stories. Her teenage characters are always believable and easy to like, even though sometimes they do seem a little too wise beyond their years. In this instance, Lucy and Owen have both had to grow up quite quickly, thanks to their respective home lives and personal circumstances. Owen lost his mum in a car accident, and Lucy's parents have constantly travelled all her life, leaving on her own for long periods of time as she got older. Both lead a somewhat lonely life, Owen because he's become estranged from his friends and Lucy because she has no friends to speak of. When they first meet each other in a broken elevator, a spark ignites inside them and suddenly they've found friendship and a shot at something more.
Owen and Lucy are this author's most complex characters I've read about so far, and each of them has a lot going on in their lives. They also both love to travel, which is a hobby I have no attachment to whatsoever. I couldn't care less about visiting other places or the actual travelling to get there but, even though I personally feel this way, I still enjoyed Lucy's travels to Europe and Owen's road trip across the US. Jennifer E. Smith brings these places to vibrant life, from New York to London, from Seattle to Edinburgh, everything is beautifully described and it's easy to believe you're actually there, walking up a hill in Scotland or going for a coffee in NYC. Talk about a book taking you away from your everyday life - this one certainly does that.
The only aspect of this novel I didn't fully fall for was the relationship between Owen and Lucy. Unlike Oliver and Hadley in The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, I never felt that instant connection and all-consuming chemistry when it came to Owen and Lucy. To me they always seemed more like friends, two people with a shared circumstance who didn't know each other well enough to want to keep in touch across continents and time zones. Like I said, I liked them both, but to me they were never that couple who I rooted for. I'm sure other readers feel the exact opposite to me, and I'm interested to know what other people think of their relationship.
The Geography of You and Me is a great book for anyone who likes this genre of YA, one you'll read in almost one sitting and savour for its brilliant writing and ability to take you to another location entirely. Jennifer E. Smith is one of the best contemporary YA writers out there and I look forward to reading more from her. I still have The Comeback Season and You Are Here sitting patiently on my bookshelf, so I think they're my next port of call. Oh, and if you haven't yet read The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, *please* do. It's so, so good!