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The Geography of You and Me

Review

The Geography of You and Me

Everyone loves a story where the romantic leads meet in a cute way --- and that's certainly the case in Jennifer E. Smith's latest novel, THE GEOGRAPHY OF YOU AND ME. Owen and Lucy live in the same New York City apartment building --- Lucy's lived there all her life and Owen just moved in since his dad recently took the building super position. However, they had never talked to each other until the fateful night when, in the middle of a massive blackout, they found themselves stuck somewhere around the 11th floor.

After they're liberated from the elevator, Lucy and Owen spend one magical night in New York, talking about anything and everything: "an evening that felt hazy around the edges, tinged with recklessness and a kind of unfamiliar abandon." Lucy often feels lonely when her globetrotting parents head on international adventures without her, leaving her alone for days or weeks at a time. Owen, an only child, often feels lonely ever since the death of his mom and the subsequent grief that has nearly consumed his father. Above all, these two solitary souls unite over their shared desire to see the world --- to go "everywhere," in Lucy's case, and "somewhere," in Owen's.

Readers will enjoy accompanying Owen and Lucy on their journeys around the world --- and toward each other.

Little do the two of them imagine, as they lie on Lucy's kitchen floor and the roof of their building on that sweltering late summer night, just how soon these dreams will come true. Just a few days later, Lucy's parents decide to relocate permanently to Edinburgh and to bring their daughter with them this time. Meanwhile, Owen and his father head west on a whim, to Lake Tahoe and later to San Francisco and Seattle, all the while trying to find a decent job for Owen's dad and a place they can both feel at home.

Lucy and Owen try to stay in touch through postcards and letters, but it's hard to remain connected when you've only shared one (unforgettable) night and are now separated by a whole ocean. "If you were to draw a map of the two of them," Owen considers, "of where they started out and where they would both end up, the lines would be shooting away from each other like magnets spun around on their poles." Can these two young people find each other again despite the distance --- literally and figuratively --- that divides them?

Jennifer E. Smith's latest novel is bound to appeal to fans of Gayle Foreman, as well as of Rachel Cohn and David Levithan's collaboratively written novels. Lucy and Owen are smart, independent and endearing (Lucy bases her reading material on the city where she currently is, while Owen delves into science and math books), and of course the various geographical settings provide plenty of variety and interest. The story is told in cleverly structured chapters, alternating between Owen's and Lucy's points of view. And, although Smith's novel is undeniably romantic, it's realistic, too, with the kinds of misunderstandings and missed opportunities that characterize any long-distance relationship. Readers will enjoy accompanying Owen and Lucy on their journeys around the world --- and toward each other.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on April 23, 2014

The Geography of You and Me
by Jennifer E. Smith

  • Publication Date: April 15, 2014
  • Genres: Young Adult 12+
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Poppy
  • ISBN-10: 0316254770
  • ISBN-13: 9780316254779