“On the night before they leave for college, Clare and Aiden 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?
Charming, bittersweet, and full of wisdom and heart, this new irresistible novel from Jennifer E. Smith, author of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, explores the difficult choices that arise when life and love lead in different directions.”
It’s been…several years since I stood on the cusp on my freshman year of college, so part of me worried that I wouldn’t be able to connect with the sentiment behind Jennifer Smith’s latest novel. Thankfully, that proved to not be an issue after all. I haven’t read any of Smith’s previous novels, but they’ve all been hailed as wonderfully cute contemporary goodness. I found it interesting that this book isn’t about meeting a boy and falling in love – Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between is about deciding whether or not to break up with said boy, even when you still love him.
Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between did not remind me of my own experience leaving high school and starting college. I graduated from a boarding school, so by the time I left for college I’d said goodbye to my friends months before, and my hometown years before that. Rather, this book reminded me of my last night of college. Freshly graduated and facing the unknown horrors of the real world that awaited us, my friends and I spent one final night together. We walked around campus, tried to complete any remaining senior challenges, and remembered four years’ worth of memories while ignoring the fact that we’d be separated that next morning. We shunned our parents and their hotel rooms in favor of one last night together. Huddled with all of our blankets on the floor, we barely slept because there was so much left to say. It’s that night I couldn’t help but think of the entire time I was reading Hello, Goodbye.
Clare and Aiden only have one night left – a mere twelve hours to say goodbye to their friends, hometown, and potentially each other. I really liked this concept (many of my friends went through the inevitable long distance break up during our first semester of college), and that they stood so firmly on opposing sides. Clare has a schedule and a plan, and she knows they should break up (she is, in my opinion, totally right). Aidan thinks they’ll make it and should stay together. They rehash the same conversation throughout the night, which made this brief novel feel repetitive. They went to a new location, had the same argument, rinse and repeat. But the times when they broke this repetitive cycle, the novel, and Smith, really showed some strength.
Their friend Scotty is staying behind, and this causes a secondary layer of tension throughout the evening. It also highlights the difficulty in moving away when your best friend is staying behind. Perhaps one of my favorite aspects of the novel was the “surprising revelation” alluded to in the synopsis. I completely understood why that character made that choice, and also why they wanted to keep it a secret. That revelation brought some much-needed depth to the story and to that character. While I wasn’t sure how to feel at first, I ultimately enjoyed the way this book ended, and what Clare and Aiden decided would be the fate of their relationship.
This novel wasn’t perfect, and I did have some problems with it, mainly regarding the main characters. I never really understood why Aiden and Clare were together, or why they even liked each other. Neither of these MCs felt particularly likable, and I found myself unsympathetic to Clare, especially after the way she treats her best friend. That being said, I still think this book is very representative of that “end of high school” experience. It’s a time when people have to be selfish with their time and attention, and often struggle with letting go of high school and being excited to start college. I feel like that is something Jennifer Smith did extremely well, capturing that anxiety and excitement of the in-between.
Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between is a must-read for people starting college this fall, because it very accurately portrays the transition from high school to college and how relationships inevitably change because of it. This book has tempted me to read some of Smith’s other novels, so I think fans of contemporary YA will greatly enjoy her work.
Rating: 3.5 stars
*I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review from the publisher.