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Friday, August 8, 2014

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Book Review: The Geography of You and Me

Sigh. I’ll admit that after my last review (All the Light We Cannot See) I was anxious to read something light and easy, less emotionally draining and inversely less moving. I browsed Goodreads for a bit and stumbled on this book. I can say without hesitation that this book indeed provided what I needed, a quick and very easy read. Unfortunately it didn’t provide much else. Luckily, I’m not holding that against Jennifer E. Smith, as this book was exactly what it offered to be.
Lucy grew up in New York. She loves the city as much as she loves her older twin brothers, which is a whole lot. She is a perfectly good student, excelling at the all girls private school she has attended her entire life. Her parents are kind, but often absent as they are avid travelers. Lucy has learned to be content, alone. She finds herself in the elevator of her New York sky rise apartment building when the unthinkable happens, the power goes out. Unfortunately, this power outage doesn’t just affect her building, it is spread over the greater part of the Northeast coast of the United States. New York City is left in the dark, and Lucy is trapped in an elevator, but she’s not alone. Here she meets Owen, her perfect counterpart (but of course we don’t know that yet … okay yeah we do). The doorman manages to free them from the elevator, but not before they share enough titillating conversation to keep them interested in each other over the span of nine months, and 5 or 6 countries.

Both Lucy and Owen spend the entire novel in transit, Lucy moving from European city to European city with her parents, and Owen driving across the country with his father who is desperately looking for a job. Both feel the inherent need to return to New York for seemingly different reasons. The parallels between these characters are abundant, in a less than believable way. Both teens consider themselves friendless at the point at which they meet. Owen understandably lost contact with the majority of his friends when his mother passed away and he was forced to move with his Dad to New York City, but we are led to believe that Lucy hasn’t ever had many (any) friends, which is always a troubling characteristic for a person to have, in my opinion. This, among many other things, prevented me from becoming attached to either character, or their struggle to find themselves and eventually each other.

I sympathized with both characters, in that they felt lost in their ever changing lives, but a lot of their development didn't make sense. Lucy and her parents move to Scotland when her Dad gets a new job, and she goes from having no friends in New York to immediately dating a very attractive rugby player on her first day at her new school. Again, no other friends or acquaintances are mentioned in her entire two months at the school in Scotland, and that does not seem possible. Owen has trouble connecting to the people who he knew before his mother died, which is understandable, but he also begins dating a seemingly perfect person when he moves to a new city, only to realize she isn't the one because it doesn't feel as natural as it did with Lucy (who he has hung out with a total of one time). Their relationship consists of one late night conversation on the roof of their building in New York City, and then a slew of postcards that they send from the many places they visit and live over the course of the next year. I understand the inexplicable feeling of being drawn to someone with seemingly no logical reasoning, but this relationship didn't sell that for me.

Needless to say, my interest was very low throughout the course of the novel, but while reading late one night, it occurred to me that a song I have recently grown very fond of speaks to the kind of people that I think Jennifer E. Smith wanted to portray. Like Real People Do by Hozier is the story of two people who find each other in an unlikely way. The two people in the song are described as though they are not human, but they long to experience a kiss the way that "real people" would. This song has been stuck in my head for a couple of days, and the lyrics were pretty perfect for the underlying themes of this story. This correlation helped me to enjoy the novel a little more. Don't be fooled, there is a more captivating story in that song than there is in this novel, sadly. Take a listen!
All in all, I would not recommend this novel unless you are specifically looking to spend a couple hours following a story that is very simple and light. Sometimes that's exactly what you are looking for, and this novel isn't the worst way to spend a rainy afternoon. 

Title: The Geography of You and Me

Author: Jennifer E. Smith

Genre: Young Adult, Fiction

Recommendation: Nah

Best Reader Audience: Teenagers who enjoy a slooooooow burning romance

Final Rating: Two out of Five Bunny Bums
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