Monday 24 March 2014

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E Smith

Owen lives in the basement. Lucy lives on the 24th floor. But when the power goes out in the midst of a New York heatwave, they find themselves together for the first time: stuck in a lift between the 10th and 11th floors. As they await help, they start talking...

The brief time they spend together leaves a mark. And as their lives take them to Edinburgh and San Francisco, to Prague and to Portland they can't shake the memory of the time they shared. Postcards cross the globe when they themselves can't, as Owen and Lucy experience the joy - and pain - of first love.

And as they make their separate journeys in search of home, they discover that sometimes it is a person rather than a place that anchors you most in the world.

Lucy and Owen live in the same building but several floors apart and have never meet until they get stuck in the lift together. They were only there for a few hours but it was enough to spark the start of a unique friendship. They begin to write to each other as they each move away from New York but things aren't as simple as they were when they first met. They were both very sweet, almost vulnerable in their meetings because they were shy and protecting themselves; I adored the way they opened up to each other, especially with parts of themselves not even their parents knew about.

The story is told in alternating chapters, flitting between the two of them, wherever in the world they were, piecing together explanations for why Owen wasn't responding to emails or why Lucy was back in New York when she should be in London. All this sight-seeing made me want to travel so much! Smith wrote incredible descriptive and emotive prose of all the places, especially London and Edinburgh and Rome. As they travel, they begin to drift apart, not writing as much, which was quite hard to read actually; I rooted for them so hard! But even as Lucy and Owen drift apart, their families are bought closer to together; Lucy finally talks to her parents about what she wants, and Owen manages to talk his father out of his funk after his mother's death. 

I flew through this, so wrapped up in both Lucy's and Owen's stories wherever they led. The emails and postcards as means of communication was very sweet and interesting to read, not just as a different means of narrative but also for what the characters wrote and left out. What I think was so special about this story was that even as they grew apart, the connection between them stayed strong as ever; they learned from their mistakes and grew as individuals only to return to each other, the same but different and better for it.

Published 10th April 2014 by Headline. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review. 

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