The Geography of You and Me

 
Sweet, smart romance is perfect vacation reading.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Both Lucy and Owen are bright, curious teens, and their interests may encourage readers to try some of the books mentioned in the story. Lucy is a voracious reader, choosing authors and books that reflect her circumstances: Kafka, The Catcher in the Rye, Julius Caesar. Their travels offer a peek into different locations around the globe, making The Geography of You and Me a good choice for vacation reading.

Positive messages

Lucy and Owen preserve their connection despite the physical distance between them and the vast difference in their family circumstances. It takes faith and effort to keep the spark alive. Open, honest communication helps them be authentic with each other and their families.

 

Positive role models

Both Owen and Lucy are independent, smart, and self-confident. As the near the age where they're to strike out on their own, they remain deeply invested in their families. Owen feels great responsibility for his father. He helps his dad with work, and takes ownership for a mistake that costs his father his job. Owen worries about leaving his dad for college but finds a reasonable solution. Lucy yearns to be closer to her parents and successfully reconnects with them. Her mother, in particular, proves supportive and loving while giving her daughter room to find her own path. Similarly, Owen's dad is devoted to him. Both teens engage in a little iffy conduct -- particularly Owen, who secretly copies his father's keys to the apartment building and trespasses on private property and drinks beer with a girlfriend.

 

Violence

Owen's mother died in a car accident before the start of the novel. Lucy briefly notes that she survived two muggings.

 

Sex

Both teens enjoy some kisses and cuddling, and there's a brief reference to making out. 

 

Language

There's very little strong language, just "badass" and "hell."

 

Consumerism

Twitter and Facebook are mentioned dismissively.

 

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Owen's mother smoked, and her habit may have contributed to her fatal car crash. Owen's dad occasionally smokes cigarettes from the pack recovered after the accident. A handyman asks teens to bring him some beer. After the initial festive camaraderie during the blackout, the atmosphere the next morning is described as a "hangover." There's a brief reference to high school boys sneaking their parents' alcohol. A peripheral character is described as smelling of pot. Owen drinks beer with a friend, and Lucy's parents allow her to have some beer and wine while living in Europe.

 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Geography of You and Me is a sweet, charming romance with likable characters. It will strike a chord, especially, with teens who are preparing to part ways with friends and family and head off to college. It's really a coming-of-age story, packaged as a romance, that offers plenty of food for thought on fate, faith, and the strength (and fragility) of long-distance bonds.

 

Parents say

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What's the story?

Lucy, 16, and Owen, 17, live in the same building in New York City, but they seem worlds apart: Lucy lives on the 24th floor with her globe-trotting parents, and Owen is in the basement with his newly widowed dad. A blackout traps them together in an elevator, and the pair end up spending a magical night on the skyscraper's roof, marveling at the stars. But soon after, the two find themselves separated: Lucy moves to Scotland with her parents, and Owen and his dad hit the open road. The two initially exchange postcards to keep in touch. But as they move physically farther apart, the emotional distance between them becomes increasingly difficult to bridge.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

THE GEOGRAPHY OF YOU AND ME is a smart, endearing romance. It trafficks in classic elements of the genre: an enchanting how-they-met story, kids from opposite sides of the tracks, alluring and exotic locations, surprises and setbacks. Yet it's a smartly told story, with characters who win you over on their own merits. Lucy's and Owen's individual stories, told in alternating chapters, are just as absorbing as their shared journey.

Author Jennifer E. Smith has an engaging writing style, with terrific sensory appeal: It's easy to imagine yourself in the stifling hot, pitch-black elevator, or returning to Owen's long-vacant home. It isn't exactly obvious why Lucy and Owen are so taken with each other -- their connection seems unlikely to outlast the peculiar circumstances of their meeting. But it's a story about faith, told skillfully enough that skeptics will lower their defenses and root for Lucy and Owen to find their way to each other.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the teens' initial preference for postcards, instead of e-mail or text messages, to keep in touch. Do you think that's nostalgic on the author's part, or do you think the medium really matters?

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  • Why do you think star-crossed lovers are such a popular theme in romance novels?

  • Do you think it's possible for long-distance romances to survive? How could you help a long-distance friendship thrive?

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Book details

Author:Jennifer E. Smith
Genre:Romance
Topics:Friendship, Great boy role models, Great girl role models
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:April 15, 2014
Number of pages:352
Publisher's recommended age(s):12 - 17
Available on:Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

This review of The Geography of You and Me was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 14 years old Written byangelsmokey124 February 4, 2015
age 11+
 

Great Book

I think this is ok for 11 and up
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models

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