Tuesday, 27 May 2014

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

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith
Format: Paperback ARC
Published by Headline on 10th April 2014
Pages: 337
Genre: YA, Contemporary
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Owen lives in the basement. Lucy lives on the 24th floor. But when the power goes out in the midst of a New York heatwave, they find themselves together for the first time: stuck in a lift between the 10th and 11th floors. As they await help, they start talking...

The brief time they spend together leaves a mark. And as their lives take them to Edinburgh and San Francisco, to Prague and to Portland they can't shake the memory of the time they shared. Postcards cross the globe when they themselves can't, as Owen and Lucy experience the joy - and pain - of first love.

And as they make their separate journeys in search of home, they discover that sometimes it is a person rather than a place that anchors you most in the world.
**Many thanks to Headline and Bookbridgr for providing me with a review copy!**

Why did you let me down after such a promising beginning, book? *sadface*

So, before I explain why this book disappointed me, I have to say: I really liked Smith's writing for the most part. I know some would find it too earnest and kind of really cheesy, and yeah, admittedly that's true, but that's something I don't have too much of a problem with. I have a sweet tooth when it comes to fiction too, so I enjoyed Smith's writing, syrupy sweet and pretty like bright-coloured candy, soft and melt-in-the-mouth.

No, the writing wasn't what I had a problem with. I just did not like the story.

I was so charmed initially! Owen and Lucy meet when they are stuck in a lift together during a blackout, and they end up spending an evening together, talking and sleeping on the roof of their building. The whole setting had such a hushed, magical feel to it; the darkness of the city around them, the swarm of people walking home on the streets, the stars that are finally visible in the sky, the lovely cocoon of companionship that Owen and Lucy weave for themselves during this one night. I thought I was heading in for a great book.

And then everything started to go wrong. Lucy moves across the world to Edinburgh, and Owen leaves New York on a roadtrip without a destination. And they. Refuse. To. Communicate.

There was the occasional postcard, and Lucy tried to send Owen emails at first, but Owen sucked at replying to emails and even when he did reply his emails were shockingly short and uncommunicative, and so they both stopped. No emails, no postcards. Nothing. They both see start seeing other people briefly, and most of the book is just them carrying on with their individual lives, very occasionally thinking of each other. (It seems as if Owen hardly thinks about Lucy at all. The book explicitly tells us that he's thinking about her maybe twice. I think Lucy seemed to think about Owen a little more.) There's scant interaction between the two.

It was so boring.

Owen and Lucy are great when they are together. I like their conversations; the book even manages to be kind of funny when they're talking! BUT THEY BARELY TALK.

Book, how are you going to convince me that they really like each other if they won't even send each other emails? They spend a whole year apart and they STOP SENDING EACH OTHER EMAILS IN THE FIRST COUPLE OF MONTHS. And Owen's emails when he did send them made it seem like he barely wanted to talk to Lucy. Jesus Christ, I found it so frustrating. WHAT ARE THESE TWO IDIOTIC TEENAGERS DOING. If you like each other, TALK TO EACH OTHER. YOU LIVE IN THE 21ST CENTURY, FOR CHRIST'S SAKE. EMAIL EACH OTHER ALREADY.

I find Owen and Lucy irresistibly cute when they're together. But this book was only about that like, 10% of the time. And it's just not enough. I mean, for all the problems that I had with this book, I was still stupidly charmed by their cuteness when they do interact, and like I said, I enjoyed the writing. The writing carried me through a book that I otherwise may not have managed to see through to the end. So. Three stars from me. But ugh. I wanted a cute book about an LDR, and this book could have been that book. But it was not that book. Owen and Lucy are hardly in contact with each other 90% of the time. There's no relationship between them. Now, if they had kept up those emails and I could get a better sense of what they're really like as a couple, this book might have been much more than a 3-star read.


  1. I have this book from the library but haven't had a chance to start it yet, and I've seen a lot of 3-star reviews. This book sounds totally frustrating with the lack of communication. Thanks for giving the low-down on this one...I may have to skip it.

  2. Oh dear. My copy arrived today. And now I'm quite worried. No contact at all for about 9 months? Then where's the story? I'm really thinking I might have an issue with this. Also, I was disappointed with The Statistical Probablility of Love at First Sight... but this sounded so good! Ugh! Really annoyed now. :/ Thanks for the great review, Cynthia! :)

  3. I know! These characters are so silly! Well, there's some contact, but... barely any. Like, for two people who're meant to like each other, they sure don't act like it sometimes! (COMMUNICATION, PEOPLE!!! When will anyone ever learn.) I've never read any of Smith's other books but since I like her writing style I wouldn't be averse to checking them out if the story is any better... Why did you not like The Statistical Probability?

  4. It is so frustrating! I honestly love these characters when they're interacting but THEY REALLY DON'T INTERACT MUCH AT ALL. *sigh* Probably not worth it if you've got lots of other books you're more excited about, unless you think you can stand this one more than I did. I mean, there are people who did love it!

  5. I just looked over my review of The Statistical Probability, and it turns out I did like it - though I don't remember enjoying it much. It didn't live up to the hype that surrounded it when it came out, to me. I wasn't as wowed as I expected to be.


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