The Geography of You & Me by Jennifer E Smith
4 out of 5 stars
I really enjoyed this book! This is probably my favorite by Smith now. It's a typical young adult contemporary romance in a lot of ways, but it was really sweet too. Set in New York City, we've got upper-class, private school, penthouse Lucy and lower-class, public school, basement Owen. Both are kind of stuck in their own heads a lot of the time and barely notice the other until they get stuck in their apartment elevator during a blackout one afternoon.
They're kind of forced to look up and see each other then. As the two start to talk, out of necessity, they find that they aren't as different as they thought. Both are alone in the big city, with no friends to speak of, and nothing to do. Owen is a tad more pessimistic, with good reason...his mother died recently and his dad moved them to NYC for the apartment job. Owen doesn't like the city, the crowds, the noise, you name it. But he can't, won't leave his dad. Lucy is a city girl, kind of like Ms. Stacey McGill, but she feels abandoned as her parents go off on trips around the world and her twin brothers head off to college.
Her parents' lives had always seemed to run parallel to their children's. They weren't so much a constellation, the five of them, as a series of scattered stars. There had always been something far-flung about their family, even when they were all in the same place.
After Lucy & Owen get out of the elevator, they spend the evening together, roaming the city in the dark, getting free ice cream, watching the sea of businessmen walking home among the quiet streets, and eventually end up on the roof of their apartment. They really connect there and talk well into the night.
"If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?"
There's a nice little bit, where Lucy says she wants to go to Notre Dame and see Point Zero, and it immediately reminded me of Anna & The French Kiss. I wonder if that was intentional. Anyway, the next morning Lucy wakes up on the roof alone. Owen is gone and she doesn't hear from him again. For weeks really. The two go their separate ways, like nothing happened. They are apart for most of the book, which kind of makes for an odd romance book, if you think about it. But this isn't just another romance book, it's also about journeys. Lucy finally gets to go to Europe with her parents and learns that she doesn't always want or like to be so self-sufficient. Owen and his dad head across America, trying to find a home and a way to live as two instead of three. As they travel away from each other, Lucy & Owen keep in touch with postcards, cheesy pictures with unsentimental notes of "wish you were here". But really, they do. They have gotten closer, made a connection, without even realizing it.
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. The map was as good as a door swing shut. And the geography of the thing - the geography of them - was completely and hopelessly wrong.
So. Do they get together again? Maybe. Does it matter? Probably not. It's all about where they end up and what they do once they get there. Who they become. And why.