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The Geography of You and Me Kindle Edition
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|Length: 314 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
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|Age Level: 12 - 17|
|Grade Level: 7 - 17|
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This ARC was provided by Edelweiss and Little, Brown for Young Readers in exchange for an honest review.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: One of the best parts of this book is the premise and how it plays out. It's all very well-written. And the second best part is the romance. It's very slow burn. It takes months for any sparks to actually happen between Owen and Lucy, and they don't end up together until much later in the book (and boy, is the ending sweet). I would've liked a bit more permanence, as it felt like the characters flitted all over, but that's part of the book's charm. Edinburgh, Scotland really comes to life in Lucy's chapters and, besides New York, it's my favorite setting in The Geography of You and Me. The whole idea of Owen and Lucy sending postcards to each other was charming, and it played out well. They joked about postcards shortly after they first met, and I loved how that was the catalyst for their communication throughout most of the book. Their first kiss was sweet, and I definitely reread the moment many times. I enjoyed the scene in Prague and how Lucy gradually pressed at her parents to acknowledge her and spend time with her. I both liked and disliked chapters 25-34. They flowed well, and I sort of get why they had to be different chapters, but I think they probably would've worked all as one, especially since the book is in 3rd person POV. At times, Owen's relationship with his dad (and his dad in general) felt a bit cliche and perhaps a bit blah to me. However, I did like how Owen and Lucy found different people in their time apart. It was incredibly realistic. As for relationships I wanted to see developed further, I wanted more of Lucy and her brothers! Sibling relationships are always some of the best to me. And, as for the ugly, one of the things I love most about Jennifer's books is that the language and romance are always PG.
The Verdict: I think The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight is still my favorite Jennifer E. Smith book, but The Geography of You and Me is a lovely read - definitely one I'll enjoy for quite some time and one that is worth giving a chance.
So this story begins with a blackout, and two kids getting stuck in an elevator together. One of them, Lucy, comes from a super wealthy family who lives on one of the NYC apartment building’s top floors. Her older brothers are off at college and her parents are those rich, continental, “we travel all the time and leave our kid by herself” couples. Owen, on the other hand, lives with his father in the basement, an apartment pity-given to them so that Owen’s dad could get work as the building’s super following his wife’s death. When the two teens are trapped in the elevator together, they wind up spending the whole afternoon and night together. Not like THAT, though. Just talking and maybe feeling some things and looking at the stars and it’s lovely. But in the morning, they go back to their own lives and wind up leaving the building where they had their little meet-cute pretty much right away for various reasons. They spend the next few years moving around and keeping in touch sporadically, but even though they are each in new places and experiencing new things, they can never seem to forget that blackout.
So first things first: THE GEOGRAPHY OF YOU AND ME is sweet. Lucy and Owen are sweet together, for all that they only really spend a few hours together at first. They have this instant sense of “You are someone I’d like to spend time with,” but in a really lovely way. Their connection is tentative but touching. It’s obvious (or it was the way I read it) that they feel like they can have a connection beyond just the few hours they spend in the elevator, and later, on the roof of their building, stargazing. The sense of promise that hangs around them makes it that much more bittersweet when Lucy moves to Edinburgh with her parents and Owen sets off on a road trip with his grieving dad, and any opportunity for their little sprout of a maybe-relationship is squashed.
But they manage to keep in touch through really fun little notes. I loved that they did things old school and sent REAL MAIL. I just thought that was endlessly charming. I love real mail. It’s so much more personal and intimate. And I loved that Owen and Lucy were sending each other these little one-liner postcards, basically just to say, “Hey. Thought of you today.” Like I said: ADORABLE.
I appreciated the reality of their situation, though. They were never really together in any formal sense at all, so when Lucy moves to Edinburgh and meets a cute boy, it felt real that she would have feelings for him. And when Owen meets a girl out west when he and his father have settled down in Portland, it was bittersweet but real that whatever feelings he had for Lucy had tempered to a point where he wanted to be with someone else. I liked that Jennifer E. Smith didn’t make it so that they were pining away for one another hard from thousands of miles away after just a short time together.
And one thing that Jennifer E. Smith never shorts her characters on is other issues. Relationships are never the only things going on in her books, and Lucy and Owen are certainly no exception. Lucy is struggling as always to find a place to fit in. She doesn’t really have many friends at school and gets lost in her family, when she even sees them. Her absentee parents are not bad people, but it would be hard for someone not to take that kind of abandonment personally eventually. And Owen is coping with the death of his beloved mother while trying to keep his dad from letting his own grief drag him under. I liked their relationship. It’s not very often that we see father-son relationships in YA–or not, at least, in the books I read–so it was nice to see in THE GEOGRAPHY OF YOU AND ME.
So what’s the deal, then? I don’t think I’ve said one bad thing about this book. Why wasn’t I blown away with THE GEOGRAPHY OF YOU AND ME? It’s hard to say. I think my expectations were high because I still remember reading Stat Prob and legit crying over Hadley and her relationship with her dad. There were emotions there that were missing for me from THE GEOGRAPHY OF YOU AND ME, and so even though I liked it a lot and had warm fuzzies all over the place, it still didn’t meet the bar I have set for Jennifer E. Smith’s books. The double-edged sword of writing a book that gets to readers, I guess.
Still, if you like Jennifer E. Smith’s books like I do, then THE GEOGRAPHY OF YOU AND ME is one you should read. Lucy and Owen are adorable but not perfect, so that’s always a bonus. And the family issues they are dealing with are real but not melodramatic, I didn’t think, so that’s always good, too. PLUS! Travel! Road trips! Scotland! I approve! And I very much enjoyed how Lucy and Owen made such an impression on each other that, despite miles and years, they still thought of one another.