By Jennifer E. Smith
Available now from Poppy (Hachette)
Popular YA author Jennifer E. Smith takes a real-life blackout in New York and turns it into a story that spans a year and multiple countries. It is a slight story, although an appealing one. Lucy and Owen are trapped together in an elevator during the blackout and share an amazing night, but their new bond is strained when they both move.
THE GEOGRAPHY OF YOU AND ME takes the one-amazing-night plot of books like BRIGHT BEFORE SUNRISE and asks, "What happens next?" Smith does excel at the high-concept premise. She falls a little short, however, in the execution. Oh, THE GEOGRAPHY OF YOU AND ME is breezy and sweet, but the romance could use some serious beefing up.
The blurb talks about how Lucy and Owen stay in touch and want to reunite. Stay in touch mostly means that Owen sends brief postcards and Lucy sometimes sends emails Owen never responds to. Want to reunite means they both date other people and sometimes stop talking to each other altogether. Don't get me wrong; it's realistic. Why wouldn't they attempt relationships with people who are right there? Why wouldn't the pressures of long distance and not knowing each other all that well not get to them? But I felt like I signed up for a book full of long, romantic communications and that's not what I got at all.
I enjoyed that Lucy and Owen both had developed personalities and families. When they first meet, neither one is in the best place. But as they grow through the year, they make decisions to make themselves happier and their perspectives naturally change. There's some nice character growth for both of them. It's just that neither of them gets a full chance to shine since they're co-narrators, and their potential keeps coming back to a slight, romantic comedy plotline.
THE GEOGRAPHY OF YOU AND ME is an enjoyable beach read, and I expect many teens will love it as such. But it had the potential to be something better.