Postcards From the Edge of Love–THE GEOGRAPHY OF YOU AND ME–A Review

Hi there! Today’s book is a YA romance by Jennifer E Smith. I adored THE STATISTICAL PROBABILITY OF LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT, so I couldn’t resist a second effort. THE GEOGRAPHY OF YOU AND ME is another quiet romance about two lonely kids who connect in a New York black out–and then spend very little time together.

So much for romance! you say? Don’t worry, HEA…

The Geography of You and MeAbout the book:

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

My review:
Okay, so, this review needs some theme music. And, as I’m a hip reviewer, I’m up on all the crazy beats these kids bang these days. (Tongue-in-cheek humor aside, I’m a fan of the Arctic Monkeys). The book, at it’s core, is about trepidation. Fear that the one person you *think* you might like won’t “Like Like” you back. It’s about: Do I Wanna Know?


(Well, to me, anyhow…)

Now, in light of that auditory experience, we can fully appreciate the kind of emotional tension that exists between Lucy–a rich gal with absent parents–and Owen–a poor boy who just lost his mother and home and has to support his grieving, broken dad.

Lucy has had the privilege of a good life, a private school education, and a bunch of nannies. She’s 16 and hardly been anywhere her jet set parents have visited. They’re in Paris when Manhattan goes dark and Lucy’s caught in an elevator with the new super’s teenaged son, Owen. Lucy is an optimistic introvert. She longs for life to begin, but isn’t sure how it should start. Not trapped in the dark with a boy, most likely….

Owen’s 17 and angry. His mother died just over a month ago in a car wreck. His father is a train wreck of grief and unemployment. They moved from a house in Small Town Pennsylvania to a basement apartment to take the building super job. In the posh building, Owen knows he’s second class, and he detests how the city sounds overwhelm and the lights consume the starlight. This is a serious problem for Owen–his passion is astronomy. When the power goes down Owen knows two things: he hates New York, and his dad is in big trouble. His ” field trip” to leave flowers at Coney Island to memorialize their anniversary, has left him miles away from a building in crisis. Still, Owen’s distracted from his grief and fear by the girl whose cheerful nature and love of her city is effusive.

After they are rescued from the elevator they have no one to report to, and no way of reporting–the whole eastern seaboard has no power–so they hang out together all night on the roof of the building. It’s a warm, clear night and the stars are brilliant. Chatting, they give away pieces of theirselves they have never given away before. It’s a little bit serendipity, little bit longing, and wholly innocent. Lucy reveals her deep desire to travel, and her inner hurt that her parents never include her. Is she so unimportant? Owen talks about his mother, and his desire to go to college, but his fear of leaving his dad completely alone in the world. Can he?

In the days that follow, Lucy’s flown to London to join her parents, who are heartsick that she was alone so long in such dire straights. Owen’s father loses his job, and their apartment, and he and Owen decide to go the vagabond route exploring America together.

Their paths separate, but they connect via postcards, and emails. For a bit. See, Lucy’s dad relocates them to Scotland where she’s suddenly more than the bookish lonely girl–she makes friends and snags a delectable beau, but somehow he doesn’t quite “get” her as Owen had. Owen, plagued with a dad who is rootless, settles infrequently and for little time. When they take up in Lake Tahoe he finds a job and meets a girl he likes, but the feelings are superficial and temporary. Meanwhile, he wonders about Lucy and her new life…

A christmastime reconnection with Owen and Lucy is a disaster, and the communication ceases.

For a bit…I’m not telling more, but this is a romance, and there is an HEA. So, there.

I really enjoyed the lyrical language of this book. The kids are human without being stereotypical. The parents are subject to whimsy, which I hadn’t expected, and yet the kids are relatively stable, learning that geography means very little when your heart gets involved. And that’s why Christmas was a bust. They had developed feelings in absencia using the other as a barometer for each new connection.

Their reticence to commit to those feelings, or even divulge them, (see: Do I wanna Know? Above) is classic teen behavior, even if it’s a distance of 7000 miles, instead of a cafeteria, that separates them. I truly enjoyed this introspective, teen read. Again, it’s innocent–the barest of kisses occur–and yet, it somehow felt very intimate. Both Lucy and Owen tell the story, and I thought both characters were well-described, likable and interesting. The build of anticipation is palpable even if the characters wander, muddle, and ponder a lot, so I didn’t trouble over the pace, which seemed almost ethereal.

Like contemporary YA romance? This book is for you.

Interested? You can find at Goodreads, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Or, try your library. This is a shoe-in for the teen section. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

Jennifer E. SmithAbout the author:

Jennifer E. Smith is the author of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, The Storm Makers, You Are Here, and The Comeback Season. She earned her master’s degree in creative writing from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and currently works as an editor in New York City. Her writing has been translated into 28 languages.

You can find her on Goodreads and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Cephalopod Coffeehouse June 2014–THE STATISTICAL PROBABILITY OF LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT

0ed81-coffeehouseHi there! Welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the tomes they enjoyed most over the previous month.  Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun.

This month I chose a YA Romance–because, basically, I had THE WORST book hangover after reading it. THE STATISTICAL PROBABILITY OF LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT by Jennifer E Stein carved my heart into mincemeat, no joke.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First SightAbout the Book:

Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan’s life. Having missed her flight, she’s stuck at JFK airport and late to her father’s second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon-to-be stepmother Hadley’s never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport’s cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he’s British, and he’s sitting in her row.

A long night on the plane passes in the blink of an eye, and Hadley and Oliver lose track of each other in the airport chaos upon arrival. Can fate intervene to bring them together once more?

Quirks of timing play out in this romantic and cinematic novel about family connections, second chances, and first loves. Set over a twenty-four-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver’s story will make you believe that true love finds you when you’re least expecting it.

My Review:

To get right down to it: Hadley’s family was unexpectedly torn apart by love. That’s right. Her dad went on a four-month sabbatical to London and he didn’t return. He’s alive, and well, and currently completely divorced from Hadley’s mother. In fact, he’s marrying the woman who stole her father away. And Hadley’s a bridesmaid. She’s never met his bride, and she hasn’t seen her dad in more than a year. In fact, Hadley wouldn’t be staring at her plane pushing back from the jetway right now if her mother hadn’t pushed her into accepting the wedding invitation.

So, Hadley’s not keen on love. She thought her parents had it–everyone seemed so happy–but love pretty much sucks if it rips your dad away to a new country and life. At least, it does in Hadley’s opinion. She gets rescheduled to the next flight, and encounters Oliver in the terminal. He’s a quiet, unassuming young English man–he’s nearly 19 and a college student returning home for a family event. They strike up a conversation that spans the flight. It’s a purge. All the misery Hadley had bottled up in the past year and half since her dad took his trip to London is spent out.

Oliver is an excellent sounding board–and distraction. Especially when he kisses her and the seeds of attraction blossomed into a budding love.

Then he’s gone–and Hadley’s still got to face her father and the wedding she wishes wasn’t occurring. It is a twisted experience, to see one’s parent so happy–knowing the misery this happiness created for one’s self and one’s loved ones. Having rid herself of her anger, Hadley is able to experience her father’s abounding joy in a way she hadn’t predicted. And, she’s able to give the one thing she never fathomed:  forgiveness.

That isn’t the end of the story however, and Hadley learns that Oliver had kept a pretty large secret to himself aboard that long flight. Can they find the common ground they had in transit or is the L-word a statistical impossibility?

Normally, I’m no huge fan of instalove, but this book–while the time frame is two days–unfolds so seamlessly it feels genuine. I was wrung out in Hadley’s point of view. What an overwhelming experience she’s had with the devastation of her parent’s marriage. Often kids know there are problems–but in this case, there hadn’t been any warning signs. Her parents were happy. Fun. Planned big vacations touring the US. Hadley and her mother were going to visit London at the end of the sabbatical. And then everything changed.

Hadley’s abandonment is a palpable presence in her life. She develops panic attacks, and spends months caretaking for her shell-shocked mother. She never has a chance to breathe, to grieve the loss of her previous life before it’s all gone. Wracked by anger, Hadley plans to cut her dad out of her new life–and had been rather successful at it–until the wedding. Understandably, Hadley wants nothing to do with the woman who caused so much heartache–who, by the by is not a step-monster. Still, after over a year’s separation seeing her dad is a knife wound to the chest. She has missed him terribly. And she comes to realize that having a relationship with him means accepting terms she couldn’t have previously considered.

See, there is no cliche here. There is pain. There is love. There is loss. There is gain. There is human life unfolding in a way that voids all plans and cancels all debts. I seriously ached for Hadley–over and over again. Her mom has moved on–met a man who adores her, yet the child in Hadley holds a serious grudge. I would have, too. Watching her let go of that pain, however, was excruciating. My heart had to stop feeling in order to not be overwhelmed. Oliver was a spectacular love interest. And the promise that these two might find love, together, was the jump start I needed to get past the strong emotions I’d suffered in the course of reading. (Disclaimer: I didn’t even hate Hadley’s dad when all was said and done–which is saying quite a lot about how well this story was told.)

Interested? You can find TSPoLaFS at Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and likely in your neighborhood library. I picked up a reviewer’s copy from NetGalley.

Jennifer E. SmithAbout the author:

Jennifer E. Smith is the author of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, The Storm Makers, You Are Here, and The Comeback Season. She earned her master’s degree in creative writing from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and currently works as an editor in New York City. Her writing has been translated into 28 languages.

You can find her on Goodreads and twitter.

Thanks for popping by my friends. Don’t forget to hit the rest of the blogs on the Coffeehouse. I know I find some great suggestions this way! 🙂

1. The Armchair Squid 2. mainewords
3. I Think; Therefore, I Yam 4. Words Incorporated
5. StrangePegs — Up So Down 6. The Writing Sisterhood
7. BOOK NOOK 8. Hungry Enough To Eat Six
9. StrangePegs — Lost and Found 10. Cherdo on the Flipside
11. My Creatively Random Life 12. StrangePegs — The Faerie Guardian
13. StrangePegs — The Ghost Brigades 14. Adornments looks at books
15. V’sReads