The Geography of Lost Things
THE GEOGRAPHY OF LOST THINGS by Jessica Brody is a YA contemporary novel that begins with Ali needing to sell her late father’s car for cash. She finds a buyer five hours away, but the car isn’t an automatic and she doesn’t know how to drive stick. The only person who can help is Nico, Ali’s ex-boyfriend, who’s surprisingly willing to join her on this road trip. Despite their disastrous breakup, they head up into the Pacific Northwest together, and along the way, Ali begins to realize that everything isn’t always as it seems. Through forgiveness, she may still have a shot at being happy.
First of all, I love the packaging for this book. The cover image, the font choices, and even the color scheme are all really eye-catching and communicate important information. Before even reading anything about the story, I can tell there will be a road trip, a romance, and an inward journey. In other words, the packaging tells me what I need to know and sells me immediately.
Luckily, the premise of this book matches expectations. Two exes stuck in a car together? It’s the ultimate “one bed, two people trope” expanded to an entire novel format. From the beginning, it’s clear that Nico and Ali will end up back together, and for the most part, I like how Brody gets us there. However, for all the buildup and waiting we have to do as readers, I wanted a bigger reconciliation in the end. I have a sense that Brody simmered their relationship to make the book more about Ali and her father, Jackson. However, while Jackson’s storyline fueled Ali motives, I found the flashbacks a bit too frequent, which slowed the pacing down for me.
The writing is also a little too polished, almost like Brody ticked off all the boxes for what makes a great novel, but the different elements didn’t fully congeal. For instance, Ali has a lot of quirky traits that set her apart from other characters. She lives and dies by online personality quizzes, she hates liars and lying, she is very knowledgeable about animals and wants to be a vet, she’s the exact opposite of a hoarder, and she thinks black coffee is boring. All of these distinctions make her very specific, but, for me, they were distracting. Though I love dynamic characters, I wish Brody picked one or two traits and allowed them to shine through the entire story instead of ping-ponging back and forth.
Overall, THE GEOGRAPHY OF LOST THINGS is a fresh voice in the YA contemporary world. The story is both nostalgic and new, cliché and original. It offers timeless lessons that made me look at my own life. Set during the summer, THE GEOGRAPHY OF LOST THINGS is the perfect book to escape this winter’s cold.