Author: Jennifer E. Smith (Twitter)
Publish Date: April 15, 2014
Genre: YA, Contemporary
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.
The Geography of You and Me is a story that, on the surface, doesn't seem entirely original, but once we crack open the pages, we find that we're on a whirlwind adventure with two characters who might very well be our best friends. Jennifer E. Smith has created a recipe for success with her contemporary tales. On the surface, we're privy to characters that seem sweet and succinct. Only after we continue reading the novel do we learn that there is a beautiful hidden depth to the story that only those with an open heart and an open mind will truly understand and appreciate.
First and foremost, there is a simplicity to The Geography of You and Me that makes the story follow a clear recipe for success. Our characters, Lucy and Owen are offered a chance meeting during crazy circumstances, but because both of their characters are so very open to the universe, to signs and to the possibility of the impossible happening, the story can proceed with ease. Like a modern-day fairy tale, Lucy and Owen spend a magical - albeit spontaneous and crazy - first night together during a New York City blackout. There's a power innocence to their encounter that immediately makes their relationship transcend the physical and almost resonate a powerful connection between two lost souls.
Owen was the type of literary guy that you absolutely can't help but fall for. He's suffered, and he's struggled through much of his life, but there's a purity to his heart that is palpable through each and every connection and interaction with Lucy. In a similar but contrasting way, Lucy's heart is vulnerable but open, and her dreams of finding hidden places on the map, learning new languages and meeting new people makes the story sing - and makes it feasible for the connection between Lucy and Owen to develop gradually but beautifully. I was amazed by how well Ms. Smith was able to inject a subtle but powerful backstory into The Geography of You and Me. In a novel that is so very heavily reliant upon the present and future, she managed to give us a full understanding of both why and how Lucy and Owen came to be the people they are today.
Ms. Smith has a way of writing stories that brings them alive. The Geography of You and Me didn't necessarily feel as though we were simply bystanders. Rather, I felt enmeshed in Lucy and Owen's long-distance relationship. Seeing the world through their eyes brought about a new sort of innocence, as well, that made it shine that much brighter. Discovering London through Lucy's excited, vulnerable eyes was a treasure, as was every postcard, every note and every heartfelt letter from Owen to Lucy (and vice-versa). Their stories healed a sort of loneliness that we first sense within them and that, in and of itself, makes watching their relationship bloom all the more worthwhile.
Overall, I was surprised to find just how much I enjoyed this book. Having been in a long distance relationship with my husband for a long time, too, it resonated that much stronger for me, and it had a sort of inescapable truth to it that made it really work. I give a very high 4.5 out of 5, and I definitely recommend it to all fans of YA, especially those who enjoy contemporary fiction and sweet, beautiful romances.
I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.