Monday, 14 April 2014

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

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.

At the moment I am really enjoying the YA scene which, I've said before and I'll say again, is going from strength to strength of late and is becoming increasingly prominent in the book world. Jennifer E. Smith is a new author to me and having adored this, her latest novel, her previous books are going straight onto my somewhat bulging TBR (to be read) pile.

What I really love about YA novels is that they manage to reflect the wild abandonment of first-love, evading the somewhat cautious and reserved nature that we grow into and adopt when entering adult relationships. Lucy and Owen, who meet for the first time when trapped in an elevator during a blackout, only spend one day with each other but they easily begin to embrace the significance of their short time together.

Lucy and Owen's connection stays with them throughout their travels across countries and continents, the dual narrative of the novel tracking their individual journeys. Far from flawless, the impact of their connection plays out across a few short months in which we get to see the growth of each character. The Geography of You and Me explores the different family dynamics of Lucy and Owen, giving the book a much broader scope than a mere love story. Nearing the age of independence and college they are both still trying to find themselves, and where they fit, both within their changing families and the wider world; a period that I think everyone can relate to. 

Beautifully written with some wonderfully poetic lines, Smith's novel is one of the most poignant books that I've read of late and I really loved the fact that there is no definitive ending to the story of Lucy and Owen. The final realisation of the novel, both mature and profound, somewhat belies its categorisation as a YA novel and ensures its recommendation as a must read no matter your age. Extra points also go to Smith for setting a portion of her book in my home city, Scotland is often a country that gets over looked in books and I'm so glad that the beauty of Edinburgh was explored in The Geography of You and Me.

I'm definitely going to continue exploring the YA genre, alongside Jennifer E. Smith's previous books, and if you've any suggestions for further reading do let me know in the comments.

*ARC copy received from the publisher, via Bookbridgr, in return for an honest review. The Geography of You and Me is published by Headline and will be released on the 15th of April.

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