As she did in The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight (2012), Smith fashions long-distance travel into a metaphor for the leaps of faith that love demands.
Lucy and Owen live in the same Manhattan building but don’t meet until they’re stuck in a sweltering elevator during a blackout. Their brief ordeal’s long enough for them to connect while their defenses are down. Grief over his mother’s death has numbed Owen to his changed life—moving from rural Pennsylvania with his father, now the building’s superintendent. With her affluent parents abroad and her brothers newly away at college, Lucy’s long-standing loneliness has acquired a sharp edge. The blackout continues after they’re rescued, and dealing with it together shatters the cocoon each lives in. They ramble the crowded streets before ascending to the roof, where they fall asleep under a starry sky. When Lucy wakes up, Owen’s gone; his dad needs help managing the blackout’s aftermath. By the time they reconnect, Lucy’s moving abroad, while Owen and his newly unemployed dad are heading west. The alternating narration builds tension as the two both live their separate lives and recollect their fragile bond, giving readers access to the closely observed emotions of each, something neither has. If the emotional authenticity points up less-believable plot points (if only applying to college were so easy!), it also eclipses those lapses.
Truth about love always gets our attention, and this book will catch readers’. (Fiction. 12-18)