Truth about love always gets our attention, and this book will catch readers’.

THE GEOGRAPHY OF YOU AND ME

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)

Pub Date: April 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-316-25477-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Poppy/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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A disappointing delivery on a potentially gripping second volume.

THE BALLAD OF NEVER AFTER

From the Once Upon a Broken Heart series , Vol. 2

Evangeline faces new dangers in her quest for happiness in this follow-up to 2021’s Once Upon a Broken Heart.

As Evangeline Fox seeks a cure for her poisoned husband, Prince Apollo, the enticing and infuriating Fate Jacks reappears, offering to save Apollo if she unlocks the Valory Arch. Remembering the long list of ills brought upon her by the Fate, Evangeline refuses. When the new heir arrives and Apollo wakes with a new curse and glowing red eyes, she is forced to delve into the mysteries of the Valors and find the arch’s four missing magical stones whose powers are luck, truth, mirth, and youth. The inclusion of expanded Valor lore alongside the preexisting blend of fairy-tale and paranormal creatures is intriguing and fits the overarching theme of storytelling as history. The ongoing use of emotions as a scale for displaying and determining one’s humanity, especially by Fates, is equally interesting. Unfortunately, the impact of Evangeline’s often amusing narration and numerous surprising plot twists is diluted by the meandering pacing, convoluted sensory descriptions, and close focus on Evangeline’s fluctuating attraction toward her potential love interests. Despite the positive emphasis on hope and happily-ever-afters, Evangeline’s romantic relationship with Jacks borders on manipulative and toxic. Evangeline reads White; side characters are fantasy diverse.

A disappointing delivery on a potentially gripping second volume. (map) (Fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-26842-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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A lushly written story with an intriguing heart.

ONCE UPON A BROKEN HEART

From the Once Upon a Broken Heart series , Vol. 1

After praying to a Fate for help, Evangeline discovers the dangerous world of magic.

When her father passes away, Evangeline is left with her cold stepmother and kind but distant stepsister, Marisol. Despite inheriting a steady trust in magic, belief in her late mother’s homeland of the mystical North (where fantastical creatures live), and philosophy of hope for the future, her dreams are dashed when Luc, her love, pledges to marry Marisol instead. Evangeline desperately prays to the Prince of Hearts, a dangerous and fickle Fate famed for his heart that is waiting to be revived by his one true love—and his potentially lethal kisses. The bargain they strike sends her on a dark and magical journey throughout the land. The writing style fluctuates from clever and original to overly verbose and often confusing in its jumble of senses. While the pervasive magic and concept of the Fates as a religious system add interest, other fantasy elements are haphazardly incorporated without enough time devoted to building a cohesive world. However, the themes of love, the power of story, family influence, and holding onto belief are well rounded and add depth. The plot contains welcome surprises, and the large cast piques curiosity; readers will wish more time was spent getting to know them. Evangeline has rose-gold hair and, like other main characters, reads as White; there is diversity among the fantasy races in this world.

A lushly written story with an intriguing heart. (map) (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26839-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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