on 8th April 2014
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Lucy lives on the twenty-fourth floor. Owen lives in the basement. It's fitting, then, that they meet in the middle -- stuck between two floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they're rescued, Lucy and Owen spend the night wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is back, so is reality. Lucy soon moves abroad with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father. The brief time they spend together leaves a mark. And as their lives take them to Edinburgh and to San Francisco, to Prague and to Portland, Lucy and Owen stay in touch through postcards, occasional e-mails, and phone calls. But can they -- despite the odds -- find a way to reunite? Smartly observed and wonderfully romantic, Jennifer E. Smith's new novel shows that the center of the world isn't necessarily a place. Sometimes, it can be a person.
This is the third Jennifer E Smith novel I’ve read and each time I’m sort of blown away by how she takes a simple idea and turns it into a great contemporary YA read.
In The Geography of You and Me we get to see one version of what if two complete strangers with very different circumstances get stuck in an elevator together. When New York City experiences an east coast wide power outage, Lucy and Owen find themselves trapped in a small metal box with only each other for company. Lucy is a girl who has always called NYC her home and Owen, a newcomer to the Big Apple, fails to see any reason why anyone would want to live there. Strangers in the night, the two teenagers survive the blackout together only to find that everything changes once the power comes back on. Lucy’s family want to transplant her to Europe away from everything she’s ever loved and Owen has to try and hold his father together.
Much like in Ms. Smith’s previous novels that I’ve read (The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, This is What Happy Looks Like), she explores the idea of fate and serendipity. Had both teens not been in the elevator at that precise moment then none of this story would have happened. But it did and I found it to be an adorable read.
Spanning continents, timezones and many months, Lucy and Owen share a relationship that endures a lot. And I loved how they communicated. This isn’t a novel where the teens share their lives via social media but rather postcards are their preferred method of contacting each other.
The characters are interesting. Lucy is a girl who loves to read and I loved her quirk of wanting to read a book which was set in whichever country she was currently in. She’s one of those pleasant people who are easy to read. Owen is a little moodier but he works so hard to keep his dad from falling apart.
Romance wise – this book is a bit subtler. It’s one of those novels where you know from the first few pages that Lucy and Owen are going to be a couple – it’s just a matter of how and the beauty is in the journey. Lucy and Owen don’t share a lot of pages together because they are geographically challenged. And because of the lack of proximity – they don’t even admit to themselves what their relationship could be for a long time. I liked how everything played out but if you’re someone who likes when the couple they’re barracking for are together and physically there for each other – perhaps this isn’t the book for you.
If you like Jennifer E Smith then I think you’ll be a fan of The Geography of You and Me. It is another extraordinary love story which happens to ordinary people. Well written with likeable characters, this book is fun and brings back the romance of communicating via postcards.