The Geography of You And Me by Jennifer E. Smith. Poppy, 2014. ISBN: 9780316254779. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS.
I was thoroughly entranced by the author’s first book, The Comeback Season, when I read it seven years ago. I had high hopes for this one after reading This Is What Happy Looks Like last year. I am pleased to report that I wasn’t at all disappointed by this book. In fact, I read it in one afternoon and it left a smile on my face as I imagined where the two main characters were going in the future.
Lucy, youngest of three children, has lived on the 24th floor of a New York high rise all her life. Her father is a high powered banker and he and her mother travel abroad frequently. In fact they’re overseas when Lucy gets stuck in an elevator during a massive power outage. Trapped with her is Owen, a year older, who recently moved to NYC from Pennsylvania when his grieving dad has been offered the position as building superintendent by a cousin. Lucy had noticed Owen coming and going over the previous week and had formed an initial opinion. However, being trapped in a dark elevator lends a bit of magical intimacy to their face to face meeting.
Their conversation leads to a spark of attraction that builds once they’re freed. Lucy has never seen stars, so Owen, who ‘borrowed’ his dad’s keys and made a copy of the one that let him access the roof, takes her up there and they end up talking most of the night.
When she wakes, he’s gone and, as the day goes on, she realizes how much she hopes to see and talk to him again. This possibility is made quite difficult when the power comes back on as her parents insist that she fly to London so they can be certain she’s all right. Meanwhile, Owen’s father, who had gone to Coney Island to leave flowers at the place where he first met Owen’s mom who died in an auto accident a year ago, had to walk almost the entire way back and is both dehydrated and exhausted. In fact, he’s so wiped out that Own has to do most of the repair work on the pumps in order to get adequate water flowing again.
It would be easy for both teens to dismiss their night together as a fun, but one time thing, but as hard as it seems to do otherwise, both of them can’t let go of what might happen if they could meet again. Unfortunately, Lucy’s father gets a promotion to Edinburgh, while Owen’s dad loses his job when a loose valve lets water leak all over the basement of the building. He and Own take off in their old car, heading west, hoping to find a little peace and a new job.
At first, Owen and Lucy keep in touch through quirky messages on postcards, but whenever he tries to send her an e-mail, he freezes up. Distance takes its toll and both of them find someone they initially think might fill the void created after that night.
How they come to realize that no one else is going to fill the need or satisfy the hunger that has been building for each other, coupled with how they finally get back together makes for a dandy and totally feel-good love story. This is a great book for any library that cares about offering teens a great reading experience. It’s also a perfect read for anyone who believes that a chance meeting can become something that just might last a lifetime.