Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Book Review: The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

Title: The Geography of You and Me
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Publication Date: April 15th, 2014
Publisher: Poppy
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Romance, Contemporary

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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.

The Geography of You and Me was one of my most anticipated releases of 2014. This is my third of Jennifer E. Smith's novels. I read both of her other books, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight and This Is What Happy Looks Like last year, and have since learned that she practically guarantees an absolutely adorable and swoon-worthy read.

Though in The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight Hadley and Oliver were faced with some major life-changing moments, I couldn't help but notice that The Geography of You and Me was a much more serious and explored much more realistic themes in comparison to its predecessor. I loved how understated and genuine the story felt, even with the unlikely "getting caught in the elevator" scenario. Lucy and Owen's circumstances may have been a little bit out of the norm, but their experiences and the challenges they faced felt very true to teenage life. There was no instalove or anything.

Instead of instalove we get to witness their relationship develop over the space of a year and span over continents. Lucy and Owen only have a short time together before they are thrown to opposite ends of the planet, but they are still plagued by these feelings for each other that they don't totally understand. The characters were faced with very real and tough circumstances, distance and wandering hearts. For anybody who has ever moved away, gone through a rough time with their families or even fallen in love as a teenager, these things will seem very familiar and genuine.

What makes the story really interesting is the fact that Lucy and Owen's lives intersect for such a brief period of time, a matter of days really, but from that point on they linger on each other's minds before being thrust in opposite directions. It's very nice to see the way Smith addresses the issues of time and distance and how it factors into a romantic relationship, especially from the perspective of teenagers. Though nowadays technology makes it incredibly easy and convenient to keep in contact with people all over the world, it doesn't mean that it is any easier being apart. It was so heart-warming to see Lucy and Owen keep in touch and Smith draws parallels between what each of them is experiencing on different continents, and as they lead two very separate lives.

I was also very glad that there were alot of very realistic conflicts that contributed to the story, issues such as family and financial troubles as well as the struggles of isolation. The characters are not at all perfect, nor do they come from perfect homes, but this fact only adds to the realism of their situation and also made Lucy and Owen more easy to relate to and develop sympathy for. The Geography of You and Me is amazing in the way it doesn't romanticize the characters and alter them to be seemingly perfect, there is the perfect amount of awkwardness and insecurities between them that make their love feel all the more genuine.

Jennifer E. Smith has once again written an incredibly sweet and honest coming-of-age novel that reminds readers that anything is possible when it comes to love, and that long distance relationships are do-able. The Geography Of You And Me is a book that had me constantly smiling and swooning and feeling a little bit lighter. Smith writes about longing and distance in such a poignant and genuine way that makes me agree that yes, absence does make the heart grow fonder.

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