Release Date: April 15, 2014
Publisher: Hachette | Poppy
Pages: 337 pages
Source & Format: NetGalley; e-ARC
Amazon | Goodreads
Summary (from Goodreads)
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.
Thoughts on The Geography of You and Me
I really loved Smith's The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, and I liked This Is What Happy Looks Like. Since I didn't fall crazy in love with the second book, I wasn't rushing out to read The Geography of You and Me. When I got an email from NetGalley about the opportunity to read the book, I jumped at the chance. It seemed like the perfect way for me to give this book a shot!
Lucy and Owen meet in an elevator when they get stuck on it together during the New York City blackout. Things are a little awkward at first, especially because the situation is nerve-wracking and tense. Once they're rescued, they end up spending the rest of the evening together. They wander the streets and admire the stars from the rooftop of their building. All in all, it's a romantic evening. But the power comes back on, and life resumes as normal. Lucy finds out she's moving overseas with her family, and Owen takes a cross-country trip with his father. They're separated, but they're never far from one another's mind.
So, this had all the makings of a fantastic story: a meet cute, two interesting characters, family dilemmas, travel... But something just felt off to me. I couldn't help comparing this book to Just One Day and Just One Year - another story where the couple spends on day together before being separated. While the circumstances are very different in that story, my mind kept drawing a connection between the two and this book just paled in comparison. I was so invested in those characters and that love story, even though I sometimes struggle with books where there's supposed to be an "instant connection" that binds two people after just hours together.
The initial meeting with Lucy and Owen is adorable, yes, but I didn't completely feel the chemistry. I mean, they spend the majority of the book apart, so I wanted it to be more believable that they'd spend so much of that time wishing they could be with one another. The love story seemed so undeveloped to me! They somewhat keep in contact, but they also live their own lives and begin writing new stories with other people. They continue thinking about each other, but I never felt like there was this big pull between them. I could see how they remained curious about one another, and I did appreciate that it wasn't supposed to be an instant love story - it was just that connection that had the potential to lead to more. But personally, I didn't feel invested in their reunion.
Another layer to this story is Lucy's relationship with her parents and Owen's relationship with his father. I always appreciate when family plays an important role in a YA book, and I've come to expect that with Smith's stories. She seems to always include a storyline that involves family, and I really like that element. In some ways, I felt like the family stories somewhat overshadowed the romance in The Geography of You and Me. I think the only reason that kind of bothered me is because the title and summary seem to promise this adorable love story, and that wasn't really my takeaway from the book.
The Geography of You and Me was cute, and I did like it. But it didn't have that "wow!" factor for me. I read it in one evening, so I did move through it quickly. I liked the variety of places that Lucy and Owen visit because I can't resist anything involving travel. Smith's writing was lovely, and I highlighted a number of quotes. But, in the end, I wished I connected a little more to the love story or that the characters hadn't spent quite so much time apart. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight remains my favorite, but I did enjoy the overall themes of this book!
“But there's no such thing as a completely fresh start. Everything new arrives on the heels of something old, and every beginning comes at the cost of an ending.”*I received a copy of this book from Hachette in exchange for review consideration. I was not compensated in any way for my review.