The Geography of You and Me
By Jennifer E. Smith
Publication date: April 15, 2014
Little, Brown for Young Readers, 352 pages
Lucy and Owen meet somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they’re rescued, they spend a single night together, wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is restored, so is reality. Lucy soon moves to Edinburgh with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father.
Lucy and Owen’s relationship plays out across the globe as they stay in touch through postcards, occasional e-mails, and — finally — a reunion in the city where they first met.
A carefully charted map of a long-distance relationship, Jennifer E. Smith’s new novel shows that the center of the world isn’t necessarily a place. It can be a person, too.
— Goodreads.com description
Here’s what I really enjoy about Jennifer E. Smith: Each of her books has a very different vibe, yet they all have a beautiful sense of thoughtfulness and expanded worldview about them.
This time around, with The Geography of You and Me, I loved how understated and real the story felt, even considering the unlikely “caught in an elevator” scenario. Lucy and Owen’s circumstances might be out of the norm, but their experiences felt very true-to-teenage-life.
I loved the travel aspects — I adore a book that can take me on a mental vacation or so perfectly capture what it is I love about a place I’ve been. And while that was beautifully done here, what really drew me in to The Geography of You and Me was the romance and the family troubles.
Lucy and Owen were faced with tough decisions, distance and wandering hearts. For anyone who has ever gone off to college, moved away, gone through a rough patch with their families or even fallen in love as a teen, these feelings will seem familiar.
Overall, though, like I said: This book is understated. It isn’t loud and it isn’t very fast-paced. I worry some people will expect this book to be “OMG swoony” and will be put off by this, but I think that’s what I loved about it most. That helped the book’s main message come through, and that message (or what I took it to be) was quite beautiful.
In the words of The Apache Relay’s “Home Is Not Places” (which I really think should be this book’s theme song): “Home is not places, it is love.”