Wednesday, April 23, 2014

YA Review: The Geography of You and Me

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
Smith, Jennifer E (2014). [Genre: Contemporary] 
Source: I recieved a review copy thanks to Bookbridgr and Headline Publishing. I recieved no other form of compensation and all opinions are my own. 
The Geography of You and Me is a bittersweet tale of long-distance love. Lucy and Owen meet by chance during a blackout, at a point when both of their lives are about to change drastically. Owen has recently lost his mother to a car-crash and is struggling to help his father process the grief. Lucy suffers from absentee parents who seem more interested in their work than their daughter. The two are from very different places socially, but there is an instant spark between them. 
I liked many things about The Geography of You and Me. I liked that despite meeting only very briefly in the first instance, there is no insta-love between Lucy and Owen. Both are very unsure as to what exactly they feel for each other and whether it is even true attraction, let alone something more. This uncertainty is reflected in both of their actions throughout the novel and made it feel very much more real. Smith's writing is beautiful - poetic, with an interesting style. A section of very short chapters built suspense two thirds of the way through in an interesting way that had me wildly flicking the pages. 
I especially liked the many elements of long-distances love that rang true in Smith's portrayal. I've done long distance myself, to an even more extreme point than Lucy and Owen do here. When my husband and I started dating I lived in New Zealand and he lived in France, which remained the case for the first 3 and a half years of our relationship. So I loved the way Smith described Lucy and Owen's first meeting after a long time apart and the awkwardness there is as you re-establish with someone you're extremely close to, but not. I loved the way Owen worries about not coming off as well on paper as he does in real life. 
That being said, there was just a few little moments that jerked me out of The Geography of You and Me's spell. I felt that Lucy reads far older than 16, to the extent that there were several points where it brought me out of the story because it didn't seem realistic - especially her relationship with another male character, which she falls into in a way that 16 year olds don't tend to. Just as there were elements of the long-distance that I loved, there were also a couple that didn't ring as true to life for me, though I recognise all experiences are different!
Overall? 3.75 stars. It's a beautifully written and compelling story, but I just couldn't quite bring myself to give it a 4.  

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