Smith, Jennifer E. The Geography of You and Me
15 April 2014, Poppy
ARC from Baker and Taylor
Owen and his father have just moved to New York City so that his father can be the manager of a cousin's apartment building. The two felt a need to move away from Pennsylvania after the auto accident that claimed Owen's mother's life. Lucy lives in the same apartment building, but her jet setting parents are never home, often leaving her alone while they are in Paris or London. When a protracted power outage first traps Owen and Lucy in an elevator and then cancels school and makes staying inside unbearably hot, the two decide to hang out together, seeing the sights in the dark and sleeping on the roof. They feel a connection, but their lives go in very different directions-- Lucy's father takes a job in Scotland, then London, and Owen's father loses his job and the two decide to travel west. Based on an earlier conversation about postcards, Lucy and Own keep in touch using them, and meet up several times. They spend one final week together in New York, and while they would like to be together forever, don't know if that will actually happen.
Strengths: Smith is a master of high school romances that are suitable for middle school readers and are filled with palpable longing. Little do tweenagers know that the best romance is always the one that got away. The travel in this was great, Lucy and Owen are very realistic about what their lives will be, and it's all gorgeously romantic and bittersweet. Sort of like a protracted Before Sunrise.
Weaknesses: Talk about some bad parenting. Owen's father is so grief stricken that he can't even hold a job? Lucy's parents think it's okay to leave a 16 year old girl alone in NYC? I worried about Owen's college career, and while it looks like Lucy may get to live in London (which is never a bad thing), surely she will have abandonment issues later on. Of course, younger readers won't worry about this.