September 15, 2015

Review: Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith

Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith
Publication date: Sept. 1, 2015
Publisher: Poppy
Category: Young Adult - Contemporary
Source: Borrowed from Alexa (Thanks!)
Summary: On the night before they leave for college, Clare and Aidan only have one thing left to do: figure out whether they should stay together or break up. Over the course of twelve hours, they'll retrace the steps of their relationship, trying to find something in their past that might help them decide what their future should be. The night will lead them to friends and family, familiar landmarks and unexpected places, hard truths and surprising revelations. But as the clock winds down and morning approaches, so does their inevitable goodbye. The question is, will it be goodbye for now or goodbye forever? (greads.com)

The good
If I were to judge Hello Goodbye and Everything In Between by its cover, I never would’ve guessed that a couple hours later I would be sitting on my couch with tears streaming down my face. Just how much can you pack in less than three hundred pages about a single night? In this case — a lot. It’s a sign of Jennifer E. Smith’s powerful writing that she’s able to give us rich characters, detailed relationships and emotion emotion emotion. Honestly, it’s pretty safe to say that this is now my favorite Jennifer E. Smith book. It’s that good.

The entire plot unfolds over the course a night. Twelve hours to be exact. Clare and Aidan have been dating for two years and it’s the eve before they leave for their colleges — on opposite coasts. After going back and forth for months about the future of their relationship, they can no longer put it off. Clare ends up putting together a scavenger hunt of sorts where they revisit significant places and moments to their relationship in the hopes that it’ll give them a sign. Or rather, give her a sign. At the onset, she is of the opinion that they need to breakup. He disagrees. Probably the only thing they agree on is how strongly they feel about the other, which is why this is so difficult. The “hunt” was a great way to learn about their relationship and understand why they’re agonizing over it.

Even though I was never in their position at that time in my life, I do think the choice they’re making is an important one. As an adult, I know friends who didn’t date until college (like myself) and some people who tried or did stay with their high school sweethearts and how that affected them. Do they try to make it work, knowing it could possibly hinder their college experience? Or do they break up completely or go on a temporary break so they can immerse themselves into life as freshmen? The answer is different for each couple and each person. I’m inclined to believe the latter but I can see why the former is so tempting as well. Even as I read, I found myself going back and forth as to what they should do.

But what I think the author captures so beautifully is that moment right before you go to college. It’s not just about the high school significant other you should stay or break up with. It’s about wanting to keep in touch with your friends but recognizing how hard it’ll be. It’s about meeting new people. It’s recognizing that your town and home may feel a little different once you’ve gone away for a while. All of these things are included throughout the story as we meet their friends, parents and siblings during the course of the night. It was that culmination of all these little moments (particularly a poignant one with Clare’s best friend) and the realizations Clare and Aiden make along the way that struck a chord with me.

(No) Reservations
None! Make sure to have tissues nearby or read it alone where no one can see you cry (just my own personal advice!)

Do I recommend?
I do! Like I said, it’s my favorite Jennifer E. Smith book now and I’m continually impressed by the stories she tells. This one is definitely something special so check it out!

4 comments:

  1. Yes! So happy to hear you cried because I thought I'd be the only one! I loved this one as well & also thought she did a wonderful job capturing what it feels like to go to college and leave everything familiar to you.

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  2. Ahhh it sounds like you loved this book as much as I did! It was all so truthful x

    Megan / www.pixiecrop.com

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  3. It's so beautiful, isn't it? I really love how Jen captures the emotions of this time in any teen's life (whether or not you're in a romantic relationship). Loved reading about Clare and Aidan <3

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  4. It's been so interesting reading reviews from people who loved this book since I had such a huge disconnect with it. On the one hand I just plain didn't enjoy it (The Geography of You and Me is still my fave if i had to pick) but then I read this book in August and I'm still thinking a lot about it. And, like yours, every review I have read has been really thoughtful and introspective not just about the book but also about how it relates to their own life experiences. I think it really says something about Smith that she manages to evoke that level of emotion in such a slim book. Great review!

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