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The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Publisher: Headline
Source: Netgalley & Bookbridgr
Rating: 4/5

During a blackout in New York City, Lucy and Owen find themselves trapped in the lift. Despite living in the same building, the two have never spoken before but once they get to talking, there's no denying the spark between them. So they navigate the rest of the blackout together, pondering the big things and the little things. However, life happens and circumstances change, and the two find themselves whisked off to opposite sides of the world. However, they keep the spark ignited by exchanging postcards and allow fate to do the rest of the work. 

The Geography of You and Me is a sweet and heartwarming contemporary young adult romance about how it's really the people that make the place and a testament to the fact that true friendship - and love - can survive the miles. It was a wistful and quiet read. After reading three of her other novels, I've come to realise this is Jennifer E. Smith's style and I very much like it. Fan for life here. Given the premise, this could have easily been fluffy and wishy washy, or mad cap caper style, or a steamy romp but I liked the way Jennifer E. Smith handled it. There was something more substantial to it - behind the themes and Lucy and Owen- that made it more than a poolside read, just like The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

The actual story was very well paced as I didn't feel it dragged in any places. In fact, sometimes it went too quickly! I wanted to soak up more of Edinburgh and Lake Tahoe or even Prague (I must go to Prague. It's not even that far from here). Speaking of which, this book should carry a warning on the front: CAUTION. WILL IGNITE A SEVERE CASE OF WANDERLUST. Between them, Lucy and Owen visited and lived in such a great number of jealousy invoking places. The descriptions - particularly of the weather- were spot on for the places I've visited myself and made me want to visit the rest. However, there's a bit towards the end that sums everything up nicely, as Lucy realises that when you travel it's not what you bring home with you but rather what you leave in that place - a little piece of yourself. Obviously, this is made even better if you have someone to share it with. 

The use of third person narrative really helped push the story along. I was thinking about the differences between first and third person the other day when writing about I'll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan. I realised many of the YA books I read are written in first person, which is great if you love the character (and I don't mean you have to like the character but there has to be something there) but if you don't, there's a danger the whole story can fall flat. I think third person worked particularly well here considering we were constantly flipping from Lucy in Europe to Owen in the USA. There's nothing worse than alternative points of view in the first person where both characters sound alike. 

Anyway, returning to the story, I liked Owen and Lucy. Both were so lonely that you couldn't help but will them together again. Whether or not they were actually falling in love was debatable, which was great, although I'm sure it's safe to say they were very much in like. I'm not much of a fan of insta-luv so I enjoyed that this was a sloooow burner and the ups-and-downs of their relationship seemed much more realistic because of it. Basically, Lucy and Owen actually seemed like teenagers. It was nice to have the parents so involved in the plot too although I would have liked to see more of Lucy's brothers - I love twins in stories! 

Overall, I was very much smitten with The Geography of You and Me whilst reading it and I think it is my favourite of Jennifer E. Smith's books (those I've read so far anyway). I would recommend this to fans of Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han, and those who like their summer stories with a little bit more behind the words. Oh and of course for those with itchy feet. So without further ado, I'm off to tinker with my own travel list. 

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