I’ve been having a drought. I’m a single, young girl reading books and looking for nice, attractive guys in those books. I like to think about them - about how I’ll find my own Gus someday. Or Henry from The Time Traveler’s Wife. Just a great guy and not a guy like all the boys walking around here that I would never date in my life.
Unfortunately for me, I’ve hit a cute guy drought in my books. Let’s Get Lost featured the most annoying guy I’ve read about in a while and the books before that didn’t even feature any guys.
So I was super excited to pick up The Geography of You And Me by Jennifer E. Smith, which is boasted as a “magic, magic book. It will take you to a place where we all want to live, where true love overcomes any distance”.
You know what that sounds like? Like a Disney World advertisement and I love everything Disney.
The Geography of You and Me is the story of Lucy and Owen. They both live in NYC when suddenly all the power in the city goes out. Lucy, rich penthouse girl, is stuck in the elevator with Owen, the son of the caretaker of the building. The two have noticed each other before, but never really talked - until this night filled with darkness.
After that night, Owen makes a road trip all over America with his dad while Lucy moves to Europe with her parents. How do you keep in touch when the world is literally in between you?
Owen was a nice enough male lead. The chapters alternated between the point of view of Lucy and Owen, so it’s nice to really get insight into the boy’s thoughts and feelings. However, I think Owen still believed he lived in a 1950s Disney movie.
After moving away from NYC, he decides to send postcards to Lucy. Owen believes e-mails are too direct. Great, very romantic Owen, but postcards take forever to get delivered and you can’t really write personal things on postcard. A+ for effort, F for practicality.
However, Lucy is charmed enough by the idea and replies to his postcards with e-mails, like every normal person living in this century would do. I liked that Lucy was critical of Owen and his intentions. She definitely liked him, but also played the field when living in Europe. It made the book more realistic than if it was a “I saw him and I want to marry him” kind of story. Yet, I couldn’t really relate to Lucy. I’m not sure if she didn’t have enough depth or that she just wasn’t my kind of person - something just didn’t click.
But I could relate to Owen even less. It was the postcards, it was the way he thought about certain things (turns out, he never keeps in touch with anyone), it was his constant lack of spontaneity and then suddenly, and unexplained, an impromptu trip somewhere.
I know plenty of Owens, so he’s realistic enough. But I don’t want to read about all the guys I already know.
Life is more than boys
A book is not all about the male lead. It’s about the storyline and the setting and the characterisation,…. In this case, the description was great. I’ve been to both NYC and London and I can guarantee you that the author wrote the places exactly like they were. Jennifer E. Smith describes the smells, sights and feel you get from a city in a perfect way. This made the book enjoyable to read, especially since I recognised most things she wrote about.
But Lucy and Owen were still only so-so. They weren’t awful, but they also weren’t amazing. I like to relate to at least one character in the book, to really feel what they are feeling. And I feel like the alternated narrated chapters would have been perfect to connect with both of them - it just didn’t work out for me that way. I can’t pinpoint it, but then reading is always really personal, so who knows exactly what it was? All I know is that the setting didn't make up for it.
I don’t want to break this book down, because the building blocks were all there: there was characterisation, setting, tension, a good plot,…. It just didn’t come together for me. Maybe if I hadn’t read it in the middle of my boy-book-drought I would have liked it better.
3 and a half stars for the book at the wrong place at the wrong time.