Monday, April 14, 2014

The Geography of You and Me (Release Day Review)

Monday, April 14, 2014 10:58 PM with 10 comments
The Geography of You and Me

Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Publisher: Poppy
Number of Pages: 352
Release Date: April 15, 2014

Synopsis from Goodreads:

A QUICK NOTE ABOUT THE SYNOPSIS: It's one of those that pretty much gives the entire story away. If you haven't read it yet, I'd skip it. Just FYI.

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.

I've only read one other book by Jennifer E. Smith--last year's This is What Happy Looks Like--which I loved, so I was so excited to get my hands on the early edition of The Geography of You and Me. The premise of the book sounded so cute (although, for real, the synopsis is like one of those movie trailers that just condenses the movie into a 2 minute trailer which leaves you feeling like you don't even need to watch the movie because you now know EXACTLY what is going to happen. Why do studios/publishers do that? I want some surprises. So lame), and I eagerly jumped in. While I found The Geography to be perfectly pleasant and pretty cute...there was nothing about it that really grabbed me. I had absolutely no doubt about where the book was headed and the drama was very minimal. I actually started this one before picking up What I Thought Was True (which I reviewed a couple of days ago), but got sucked in and finished WITWT before returning to this one as it just wasn't really holding my attention. In fact, I finished this book not even 12 hours ago and I needed to look up the characters names to start writing this review. So...there's that.

The Geography follows two teens, Lucy and Owen, who live in the same NYC apartment building. Lucy is a long-time resident of the fairly swanky building and Owen just moved into the basement with his father who has recently taken over the role of super. Owen is on his way to the roof top on a especially sweltering summer evening and Lucy is on her way home when the elevator the two are sharing breaks down due to a city-wide power outage. The two start talking while waiting for rescue. Lucy's globe-trotting parents are in Paris and Owen's father has taken the day off to go to the beach. After they get out, the two decide to spend the rest of the evening together, eventually falling asleep on the rooftop under a blanket of stars. As far as meet-cutes go, this one is pretty adorable.

Soon after that evening, both Lucy and Own find out that they are moving. Lucy to Scotland where her father has accepted a job and Owen to...somewhere. The fact that he took an unscheduled day off the night of the blackout has put him in pretty hot water and a second incident costs him his job. Owen's mother has recently passed away. In fact, Owen and his father moved to NY in hopes of leaving their sadness behind in the family's beloved home in PA. The men decide to try their luck out west and pack up their car. Lucy and Owen share their first and good-bye kiss in the lobby of the building and promise to write each other using postcards.

This book very much reminded me of those old Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan movies, especially Sleepless in Seattle (in fact there even seems to be a couple of out-right nods to the film, but they occur later in the book, so I won't share them here). There is a mention of a long-distance relationship in the synopsis, but that is a bit of a misnomer. Lucy and Owen don't make any promises to each other. They spent one night together and shared a single kiss. They aren't a couple. Again, very reminiscent of Sleepless, this is a story of two people who the audience know are perfect for each other living out their separate lives.

I really liked both Lucy and Owen, but didn't really feel a connection with either of them. I liked how close Owen has with his father and the way in which he felt protective of him while both are trying to move past the death of his mom, but I didn't really feel like we get to really KNOW either of them. Everything just seemed to kind of skim the surface. The fact that Owen's mom died gives him some depth, but it is because of the event.

I loved the aspect of two teens sending each other postcards and enjoyed the cross-country trek Owen and his father take while looking for work and trying to find the perfect place to settle down, and also enjoyed reading about Lucy's adventures in Europe, but wish there had just been more characterization. While I liked the two teens, they were both very vanilla. 

Overall, I found The Geography of You and Me to be a pleasant experience, but I wish it would have had a little something more. I don't need crazy drama in my books and event after event that keeps two people apart. In fact, that kind of set-up usually drives me bonkers, but this had very little drama which kept it from being very interesting. Don't get me wrong. I didn't dislike this book, it's pretty cute, there just isn't much there. It was like the skyrail at amusement parks. It's a pleasant experience to float high in the air and see the park, or whatever, but I go to amusement parks for the roller coasters.

*I received an advanced reader's copy of this novel from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange of an honest review.*


  1. I sometimes like books that are just what the summary says. Not all the time, but every once in awhile it's nice to know what you're going into. I also like that you said Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks. I love their movies together. I'm a total 90s kid! I think I have both of the author's other work, but I haven't read them yet. Thanks for the great and honest review once again!

    1. It's not that I don't want the summary to be truthful...but this one literally gives away the ending that the book takes 352 pages to get to. That bugs me. Tom Hanks is the best. I absolutely adore him. I really enjoyed This is What Happy, but haven't read anything else. I've been meaning to, though. Thanks, Christianna!

  2. Yup, you pretty much summed up my thoughts too...gah, I was a bit disappointed with just HOW fluffy this was. Just a skim over the top, like you said. And plus, I didn't feel the connection between Owen and Lucy either. They were cute together, but what was this intense love? When did we get to SEE that instead of just be told it? Plus it felt like the whole thing was just set up for the entirely predictable ending. *sigh* Great review though, I think you summed it up pretty well. ;)

    1. Thanks, Cait. I was a bit disappointed, too. Like I said, I did enjoy it, but I just wanted there to be MORE. The night they spent together, while cute, wasn't really anything all that special. I did like the ending, though. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I preferred this one to This Is What Happy Looks Like. I totally agree - there was no 'love story' in this book but I quite liked it that way. Sometimes when you move somewhere new, you keep in contact with people you were never that close to just to keep a piece of home with you. I think that's what Lucy and Owen were for each other. I loved all the different places they visited though.

    As for their characters being kind of vanilla? Good grief, weren't they just! However, I've now read four books by Jennifer E.Smith and all of the characters are kind of like that but it works somehow...In a way, I'm glad she didn't try and make them really quirky and edgy because on top of the postcard thing there would be too many gimmicks. Also, I reckon most of us average Joe's and Joanna's are pretty vanilla on a daily basis and we add various toppings to change things up now and then. Ooooh that was a terrible analogy, apologies! Anyway, yes, I liked it but agree with most of the issues you had with it.

    1. I honestly didn't dislike it--although I did like This is What Happy better, lol--I just wanted more. It didn't even have to be more of a love story, I just wanted to know the characters better. Also, agreed that not all characters need to be full of quirky characteristics, but again, I just wanted MORE something. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Sorry this one was a bit disappointing for you, but it still sounds fairly cute so I'm going to give it a try. I do like the sound of the postcards and cross-country trek, but I usually like couples to be together so you can see their interactions, etc. You've lowered my expectations a bit, so hopefully I will like it more than you did! ;) ~Pam

    1. You should definitely still give it a try. It wasn't that I dislike it, but I do really wish there would have been more in-depth characterization. I hope you enjoy it! Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Haha! I love how you compared this book to a skyrail! What an awesome metaphor! Anywho, I haven't decided whether I'll read this book or not. After reading your review, I'm beginning to think this book may not be for me, but maybe I'll still read it eventually. Great review, Natalie!

    1. Courtney! OMG, where have you been? I'm so glad to see you!

      Haha, thanks! It isn't a bad book, it just wasn't as interesting as I wanted it to be. Like I said, it's pretty cute and pleasant and that can be nice sometimes. Thanks for stopping by!


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