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

Posted August 15, 2014 by valeranne in Reviews / 5 Comments

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

The Geography of You and Me

by Jennifer E. Smith
Published on April 15, 2014
by Poppy
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Amazon | Goodreads

Also by this author: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

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.

4.5 Stars

The Geography of You and Me appealed to me because a) it’s written by Jennifer E. Smith who is amazing and b) it was about traveling; I have always had this need to travel, whether it’s around my extremely large state or around the world, I just want to see everything that I can. I thought it would be fun to change up my review style a bit today. Since this book focuses on geography and traveling, I decided to list five reasons why I think that traveling is important and use those points as a platform to discuss the book. Every reason will also have a quote because Jennifer E. Smith is just a master of words.

“That was the thing about books, she was realizing; they could take you somewhere else entirely, it was true. But it wasn’t the same thing as actually going there yourself.”

  1. Traveling can create long-lasting relationships. Lucy and Owen actually met while they were both living in New York City but it was only a matter of days before they both left the Big Apple for different destinations. Their separate travels solidified their relationship into something that lasted, much longer than the one (innocent) night that they spent together. No matter how many new people they each met, or how long it was since they had corresponded, they could never forget about each other. I love how their understanding of people and relationships grew and changed throughout the book because of the people that they met and observed while apart. Owen talked about how some of the people he met were like light bulbs, the connection being instant and easy but somehow artificial while his relationship with Lucy was like a fire, slow but long lasting. Man, that’s brilliant. Bravo Jennifer E. Smith, bravo.

“If you were to draw a map of the two of them, of where they started out and where they would both end up, the lines would be shooting away from each other like magnets spun around on their poles. And it occurred to Owen that there was something deeply flawed about this, that there should be circles or angles or turns, anything that might make it possible for the two lines to meet again. Instead, they were both headed in the exact opposite directions. The map was as good as a door swinging shut. And the geography of the thing—the geography of them—was completely and hopelessly wrong.”

I’ll just give you a moment to recover from that beautiful writing.

  1. Traveling is a way for us to find ourselves. A major theme in the book is emotional geography, being geographically near someone but feeling alone or in the case of Lucy and Owen, being geographically distant but being emotionally close. By the end, Lucy and Owen are not exactly the same people we met at the beginning. Their travels allowed them to find themselves; Lucy found herself while traveling a different continent while Owen found himself on his journey from city to city. It doesn’t matter where you travel, just go. I could have easily watched this as a movie because it is that realistic and compelling; the characters were flawed but we got a chance to understand their motives and really see how their travels changed and affected them.

“Standing there alone in the hallway, she couldn’t help smiling. For the first time in her life, she realized there was no hope of blending in. Here, she was the one who was different. She was the one with the accent. The new girl. The object of curiosity. And to her surprise, she found that she didn’t mind.”

  1. Traveling changes you. The quote explains it all.

“All these years, she’d imagined her parents were out there in the world trying to take in as much as possible: photos and stories and memories, check marks on a list of countries and pins on a globe. But what she hadn’t understood until now was that they’d left pieces of themselves in all those places, too. They’d made a little home for themselves wherever they went, and now Lucy would do the same.”

  1. Traveling teaches you to appreciate the little moments in life. Lucy and Owen spent one night together that changed their lives. Throughout the book, they keep reliving conversations that were had and emotions that were felt in the short time that they had spent together. A night that should have been dreadful, the night of the blackout, ended up being wonderful and brought them together; it taught them both to find beauty in unexpected places and to really enjoy all of life’s little treasures.

“How long could a single night really be expected to last? How far could you stretch such a small collection of minutes? He was just a boy on a roof. She was just a girl in an elevator.”

  1. Traveling teaches you about love. I had to go there. One of my favorite scenes is when Lucy is observing an old man who is desperately in love with his wife. We get to see Lucy be the student and begin to really understand what love is from this man. The swoon in this book…. It was some swoony swoon.

“There was a lump in her throat as she watched him fidget with the buttons on his vest, and it struck her as the truest form of kindness, the most basic sort of love: to be worried about the one who was worrying about you.” 

“They just stood there, regarding each other silently, the room suddenly as quiet as the elevator had been, as comfortable as the kitchen floor, as remote as the roof. Because that’s what happened when you were with someone like that: the world shrank to just the right size. It molded itself to fit only the two of you, and nothing more.” 

To wrap it up, I loved this novel because I love Jennifer E. Smith’s mind and words; she amazes me with every book. She perfectly captured the beauty in traveling the world and beauty that can be found in everyday life if you only look for it. This book has it all: swoon, compelling characters, mistakes, happiness, and most of all, geography.

My favorite quote:

“Something like that,” he said, his eyes shining, and she realized just how much there was she didn’t know about him. He was like one of her novels, still unfinished and best understood in the right place and at the right time. She couldn’t wait to read the rest.”


About Jennifer E. Smith

Jennifer E. Smith is the author of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, The Storm Makers, You Are Here, and The Comeback Season. She earned her master’s degree in creative writing from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and currently works as an editor in New York City. Her writing has been translated into 28 languages.

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5 responses to “Review: The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

  1. Liza

    Hi Valerie! I love the format of the review and I see you figure out how to do the lovely quotes that Ashley set up for us (thanks Ahsley!)

    I really enjoyed Statistical Probability, but that wasn’t the case with This is What Happy Looks Like, so I’m really glad that this is a great book. I do have a copy, so now I can feel confident that I will love it (after all you recommended Let’s Get Lost :))

    • That’s how I was with both Statical Probability and This is What Happpy looks like. I mean, I still loved Happy because Jennifer wrote it but it just wasn’t up there with Statistical Probability. I don’t know if I like this more than SP but I it is way better than This Is What Happy Looks Like. She got back into the swing of things. 🙂

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