I’m so excited to be part of the blog tour for Jessica Brody’s latest YA contemporary novel, The Geography of Lost Things, hosted by the lovely people at Fantastic Flying Book Club! After reading my review, don’t forget to sign up to enter the tour-wide giveaway, as well as check out the schedule for which blog stops are next!
My Rating: ★★★★☆
In this romantic road trip story perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Morgan Matson, a teen girl discovers the value of ordinary objects while learning to forgive her absent father.
After Ali’s father passes away, he leaves his one and only prized possession—a 1968 Firebird convertible—to his daughter. But Ali doesn’t plan on keeping it. Not when it reminds her too much of all her father’s unfulfilled promises. So when she finds a buyer three hundred miles up the Pacific coast willing to pay enough money for the car to save her childhood home, Ali can’t wait to get going. Except Ali has no idea how to drive a stick shift. But guess who does?
Ali’s ex-boyfriend, Nico. And Nico has other plans.
He persuades Ali that instead of selling the car, they should “trade up” the items they collect on their trip to eventually reach the monetary amount Ali needs. Agreeing with Nico’s crazy plan, Ali sets off on a unique adventure that is unlike anything she ever could have expected.
And it’s through Ali’s travels, through the strangers she meets and the things that they value—and why they value them—that Ali eventually comes to understand her father and how his life may not have been as easy and carefree as she previously thought. Because just like the seemingly insignificant objects Ali collects, not everything is exactly as it appears.
I received an advanced e-book copy on NetGalley from the publisher as part of the blog tour in exchange for an honest review.
Despite owning several of Jessica Brody’s novels, this is the first YA contemporary of hers that I’ve read. There were three main reasons why I decided to pick up this book: 1) the cover is absolutely beautiful; 2) I was very interested in the concept of discovering the value of ordinary objects; and 3) I had yet to find a good “road trip story” that’s been able to hold my attention for longer than two chapters – I’m not sure if that’s because I get distracted easily or it’s just my chronic issue of struggling with the first ten chapters of every book I pick up. Plus, every time I meet Jessica she’s always been so lovely and amiable, I felt terrible having not read more of her books; I felt like it was time to finally start changing that!
Things I Liked:
As always with pretty much any book I read, I become highly invested in the main character and their love interest really early on, sort of right when they’re first both introduced. I love seeing how they go through the whole pre-relationship phase, when feelings develop, change, and deepen until they demand to be acknowledged. In this book, however, Ali and Nico are exes right from the get-go and through this road trip we get to find out what caused their breakup and if, through this journey together, they’re going to rekindle their romance. I found the whole mystery of the reason for their breakup to be really intriguing. That, and finding out what secret Nico has been hiding compelled me to keep reading.
Another mystery that I really wanted to discover the truth to was the reason for Jackson’s departure. I felt really sympathetic to Ali, especially during flashbacks to her childhood of all the times Jackson gave her good memories, only to disappoint her later on when she was old enough to realize his unhealthy and destructive pattern. The unveiling of the truth behind her father’s constant absence had a more significant impact on me than I anticipated. Despite already having passed away, Jackson’s presence and the effects of his decisions were strongly present throughout the entire novel, and acted as the guiding force for Ali’s journey to forgiveness. I felt somewhat sympathetic towards Jackson but my heart mainly ached for Ali, especially once the effects and full consequences of his absence became clearer.
I admit that I’m the type of person to hang onto things because of their sentimental value, so I really enjoyed seeing what different objects people valued and what they were willing to let go of to obtain something else. The whole trading concept that Nico introduced Ali to was a completely new thing to me, I had never heard of doing such a thing before so it was really interesting to learn about. Personally, I think it was too risky but it was one of the other aspects of the story that kept me enthralled and invested.
The writing was engaging and I really enjoyed the list of inventory at the beginning of each chapter, especially during the later parts of the book. It was amusing to see how the labeling of some items in their inventory would change depending on Ali’s opinions and emotions.
Things I Disliked:
I’m not really sure what it was exactly that prevented me from giving this book 5 stars, but I guess there’s a few little things that when added up together made me feel 4 stars best conveyed my feelings towards it. I thought it was a little strange that Ali’s mom didn’t contact her more frequently during her road trip with Nico, and I also wish there had been an epilogue of some sort to give me more closure at the end. I liked how it ended and it felt fitting for the story overall, but I guess I was looking for a more solid ending. I also wouldn’t have minded a bit more in the romance department, but I do understand that this story was mainly about Ali and her relationship with her father.
An insightful exploration of the impact of an absentee parent in a young girl’s life, The Geography of Lost Things is equal parts heartbreaking and heartwarming. This book addresses abandonment and addiction while highlighting the importance of forgiveness, family, love, and finding the courage to pave one’s own path. This resonated with me more than I anticipated and I am certain that I will always remember the life lessons taught within its pages. I would definitely recommend this if you enjoy heartfelt road trip stories.
About the Author:
Jessica Brody is the author of more than 17 novels for teens, tweens, and adults including The Geography of Lost Things, The Chaos of Standing Still, Better You Than Me, A Week of Mondays, 52 Reasons to Hate My Father, Sky Without Stars, and the three books in the sci-fi Unremembered trilogy. She’s also the author of the Descendants: School of Secrets series, based on the hit Disney Channel original movie, Descendants and the forthcoming LEGO Disney Princess chapter books. Additionally, Jessica’s first non-fiction book, Save the Cat! Writes a Novel (a plotting guide for novelists) will release in October, 2018. Jessica’s books have been translated and published in over 23 countries and Unremembered and 52 Reasons to Hate My Father are currently in development as major motion pictures. She lives with her husband and three dogs near Portland, Oregon.
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