The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith (Expected April 15th) big thanks to bookbridgr.com for a copy for review.
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.
What strikes me the most about this book is the accomplished (and enviable) writing style. It has a flourish and a keenness for detail, described in surprising and compelling ways.
Setting – This whole book works on an idea of multiple settings, with one eventual goal. Each time we’re introduced to a different place I was impressed with how eagerly I ate up the description. Sometimes when a narrative hops about from place to place, it can become choppy and less engaging. But I was right there, wanting the journey alongside Owen and Lucy.
Narrative arc – a beautifully sweet story that follows a natural and easy progression towards the inevitable end. Come on, we knew where it would end, but getting there was a lot of fun.
Continuity and motifs – This was expertly done too. So many little snippets that seem like lovely ideas at first, grow into metaphors and imagery that spans the whole ‘geography’ of the book. Both physically and emotionally.
I really liked Lucy’s character. She felt so solid, like I could easily bump into her in the street and recognise her. With Owen, less so. There was something ‘static’ about Owen’s character (yeah, yeah, he travels across a big chunk of the US) in that he moves, physically, but emotionally and personally, I felt like he had little growth. It struck me that the constant flip-flop between each character POV prevented me having any real ‘bond’ with them. It does keep it moving at a quick slick though.
Also, I wasn’t completely sold on the one page, one line, chapters that cropped up. They felt redundant to me and erring on the side of ‘metafiction’ and in a story like this I’m not sure I want to be aware that I’m reading a book, you know? I’d rather just sink right in and escape. To New York, to London, to Paris..
Who would enjoy this book? – Most people! Teen, Adult, or otherwise. For those that enjoy Rainbow Rowell and Stephanie Perkins, perhaps. But I went into this blind and I didn’t want to put it down!
An imaginative and fresh narrative, for sure. I’m giving it a strong 4 out of 5. It was fun, fast paced and a treat to read, but there was nothing particularly memorable about it. Lovely writing, and there is a refreshing sense of realism to the situation, but I think I found it lacking a little in the ‘feels’ department. Maybe it’s my melodramatic side coming out.. xD
But I do now have EPIC wanderlust… *quickly books a holiday*