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Genre: YA/teen books, Series: book review

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

I’m an unabashed fan of Jennifer E. Smith. I say unabashed because she doesn’t write what I typically read, and sometimes when I read things outside of my norm, I feel like I have to justify them. Luckily for me, these books can stand on their own two feet.

First and foremost, the author is actually an editor, meaning her writing is tight, clean, lyrical, concise, and I have yet to find a grammatical or punctuation error in any of her books. I think I need to add her to my list of literary people I’d like to meet, because she’s clearly both a writing and editing rock star (and surprisingly enough, that’s probably not the nerdiest thing I’ve ever said). That aside, hopefully you can now understand at least once piece of what draws me to her work: in short, they’re well-written.

Second, they’re the best kind of contemporary YA romance. When I say “best,” I mean that they’re less concerned with a love triangle, or my-best-friend-saw-him-first drama, or other (what I think of as) fluff, and instead get to the heart of the stories and the personality of the characters right from the beginning, and carry that all the way through. There’s always something else going on in the character’s lives, but it’s realistic and it’s meaningful and it’s character developing in a way that’s relevant to readers for their lives today. (This coming from the woman who enjoys reading paranormal fiction, so listen up.) These books are perfect for recommending to people looking for a more substantial alternative to something like the Gossip Girls series (take note, parents, teachers, & librarians).

Third, while they have an uplifting and resolved ending, they also stay true to reality in that they don’t promise a “happily ever after”. The immediate issues in the books – namely first love and communication across distances and often grief – are handled by the end, but there is still uncertainty in the future, just over the horizon, as there should be in everyone’s, but particularly teenage, lives. While I think happy endings have a time and a place (insert raunchy joke here), I particularly enjoy reading a book where the author hasn’t placated to that expectation. I think it allows the reader to stay with the characters long after the book is over, imagining what that future might look like.

Also, and this is entirely on a personal note, but her writing reminds me of David Levithan‘s writing, and as I hold his work above almost all others’, that’s saying something.

And now, on to the actual book.


The Geography of You and Me
Jennifer E. Smith
9780316254779, Hardcover, Hachette Book Group, $18

Publisher description:

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.

As with a lot of Jennifer E. Smith’s books, this book is about the publisher description and so much more as we get to know these particular characters. Yes, Lucy moves to Edinburgh with her parents, but what this doesn’t tell you is that Lucy’s parents are frequent world travelers, leaving Lucy at home in their New York City apartment, and Lucy wants nothing more than to go somewhere. It also doesn’t tell you that Owen and his father are reeling with grief, adding a different kind of weight to their decisions and interactions. Owen is determined to travel everywhere, and his trip out west mimics a trip Owen’s mother and father took during the first two years of their marriage. As the story unfolds, it becomes a meditation on what “home” means, on communication in the 21st century, and on interpreting the ways different people make you feel when you’re with them and when you’re not. Also, the author has Lucy read a different book that is about or of or from the places she goes (Catcher in the Rye in NYC, Julius Ceaser in Rome, etc.), and I love that idea.

And now for my favorite part – book quotes. These are lines that struck me as I was reading, and I hope they give you a sense of what I like about both her writing and her storytelling.

…and Lucy, the youngest, tucked in a corner, always trailing behind the rest of the family like an ellipsis at the end of a sentence. (pg. 12)

Theirs was a relationship built on neutral ground and impartial geography… (pg. 31)

“There’s a difference between loneliness and solitude.” (pg. 45)

They were like a couple of asteroids that had collided, she and Owen, briefly sparking before ricocheting off again, a little chipped, maybe even a little scarred, but with miles and miles still to go. (pg. 139)

…in neither of those two conversations did she mention the two names that would have told the real story. (pg. 193)

And she realized that whatever else he’d done, he’d recalibrated her; because even though it had all gone horribly wrong, and even though she might never see him again, might never even speak to him, she understood something about wanting now. (pg. 199)

…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. (pg. 278)

…nine months ago, he’d met a girl in an elevator, and she’d been on his mind ever since. (pg. 317)

He was like one of her novels, still unfinished and best understood in the right place and at the right time. (pg. 330)

You can read an excerpt on Goodreads.

You can also help support me and this blog by clicking on the book cover and link below and purchasing a copy of this book through Indie Bound‘s Affiliate Program.

Shop Indie Bookstores

More books by this author (they’re not a series, per se, but are different stories in a similar vein).

happy.jennifer smith stat.jennifer smith


About WildlyLived

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4 thoughts on “Book Review: The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

  1. I am SO incredibly happy that you are blogging again, Broche. I really like Jennifer E Smith’s books, too, and this one is maybe my second favorite after The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. They’re all fun and well done. I didn’t realize that the author is also an editor, which makes sense.

    Posted by Emily @ As the Crowe Flies and Reads | October 20, 2014, 12:28 pm


  1. Pingback: On WildlyRead: The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith | WildlyLived - October 20, 2014

  2. Pingback: Book Review: The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett | WildlyRead - November 8, 2015

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Car book! We always keep a non-fiction book in the car to read on the way to the grocery or if we get stuck in a traffic jam or if we find a park somewhere. Our current book is SUDDEN SEA: THE GREAT HURRICANE OF 1938 by R.A. Scotti. She writes surprisingly lyrically about a hellish event that took the inhabitants of the NE coast almost entirely by surprise, despite the awareness of some officials. Fascinating in the wake of Hurricanes Irma & Maria.
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Gorgeous illustrations pop with foil pieces that highlight the words of this simple book, perfect for even the youngest reader. The sweetly lyrical text leads the reader from one - a tree - to many - the forest - and beyond, with each turn of the page showing more and more complex scenes through fall, winter, spring, summer, country, city, morning, and night, until we reach the end where the whole world is shining. I immediately wanted to read it again. For all ages, but especially 1-3-year-olds.
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#bookrecommendations #bookreview #bookrec #book #books #bookish #bookworm #bookstagram #booklover #instabook #instaread #read #reading #readmore #readwithme #readstagram Completed road trip book 1, including a brief review (review below).
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Does not disappoint! Another solid read in the In Death series by JD Robb. I've been reading this series since 2013, since before she came out as Nora Roberts, and I keep expecting the next book and then the next book and then the next book to dip in terms of quality of style and content and originality, but it just doesn't (thank goodness!). In #46, Dark in Death, JD ROBB almost makes a play on her own life in ways, as Eve is after a murderer who finds inspiration in a specific author's murder mysteries. Robb literally pays homage to the master of the meta, Hitchcock, with mentions of Psycho and Dial M for Murder, and I'm pretty sure the author she describes is modeled after Robb herself (physically). The plot is pretty tight and focused, but we still get glimpses of Peabody & McNab; Leonardo, Mavis, & Bella; Somerset is still off on holiday; and there is just a peek at the growing romantic interest in Nadine's life, as well as a preview of Nadine's next best-seller based on Eve's police work. I'm looking forward to a future book of Robb's that I'm sure will go into further detail either about Nadine's upcoming Oscar nomination for the first book/movie or the publication and what I'm sure will be subsequent movie of the second book. Enjoy!

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