Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith
Release Date: September 1, 2015
On the night before they leave for college, Clare and Aidan have only one thing left to do: figure out whether they should stay together or break up. Over the course of twelve hours, they 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 leads them to family and friends, 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 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. (courtesy of Goodreads)
This book felt so real to me. It's not an experience I've had, but it has similarities to experiences I've seen other people have. Clare and Aidan are one of those rare high school couples that feel like they are so perfect - that they will be the one that lasts. But they're off to colleges on separate sides of the country. They're practical people and know that it's unlikely that they'll last and that even if they want to stay together now, they probably will break up in a few months when they inevitably grow apart.
When I was a senior in high school, I saw numerous relationships and best friendships fall apart. I think it's a subconscious awareness that you're soon to set off on separate lives, so it's best to tear off the band-aid quickly. The things I witnessed over the course of an entire school year happened in a single night in these characters' lives. Friendships splintered, relationships quaked, and loyalties were tested. It was an exaggeration of real life, but still very real.
Clare is somewhat of an annoying character. She is practical to a fault. She refuses to tell Aidan that she loves him. She gets upset at other people for things that she also does. She is a fundamentally good person, but not too self-aware. I liked her in spite of her realistic faults. Aidan was similarly complex, although he didn't feel quite as layered. He is easy-going, chatty, and spontaneous. He also has serious issues with his father and lots of underlying resentments that he pushes down until they explode.
I always love how Jennifer structures her books. Taking a brief period of time and turning it into an entire book. Amazingly, the plots work. Even though it took place over twelve hours, the story flowed. Lots of different things happen to keep your interest and enough background is provided to give you an understanding of the characters. If you take a step back, it doesn't feel that realistic, but in the moment, I had no trouble believing the story.
Deciding whether to keep relationships and friendships while going to separate colleges is never an easy thing. And it isn't easy here. The book ends on a good note, but without feeling like a fairytale happily ever after. It was the perfect ending for a wonderful book.