The Geography of You and Me
Jennifer E Smith
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Published April 15, 2014
On a hot summer night, the lights go out on the east coast, dropping Manhattan into an unfamiliar blackness. Sixteen year-old Lucy and seventeen year-old Owen, strangers who live in the same building, share a few moments trapped in an elevator which blossoms into hours spent talking under the night sky.
Just as the two begin to connect, their lives propel them apart: Owen to the west coast and his father’s unending job hunt and Lucy to the Europe she’s coveted the last sixteen years. Only postcards span the distance between them until the night they can’t bear to be separated any longer.
The usual romantic formula has the hero and heroine in the same room (or at least the same city) a high percentage of the story. Smith’s bold departure from the expected routine of romance is a risky move that absolutely pays off. As Owen and Lucy explore the new terrain of their lives, their shared longing for one another anchors the story together.
One of the pleasant surprises in the story was the growth in the relationships between each character and his/her parents. Without violating the sacred teen need for privacy, Owen’s dad and Lucy’s mom reveal that despite their issues, they’ve been paying attention. In a genre cluttered by too many flaky caricatures of parents, it was refreshing to see such human examples of loving parents.
The sweet romance and witty banter between Lucy and Owen make this a charming story. It’s a pretty clean read (see below for details) and probably best suited to readers aged fourteen to seventeen.
Limited kissing. Brief references to a girl wondering why she hasn’t brought her boyfriend home to her parents’ empty house for some unsupervised time.
Cigarettes/smoking is blamed for Owen’s mother’s fatal car accident. Owen treasures a cigarette that belonged to his mother, but he is not a smoker.