Hello, Goodbye, and Everything In-Between by Jennifer E. Smith
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.
Normally, what is really important to me when I’m reading a book is the makeup of the characters. That is the exact mindset that I started reading this book with. I think if I had continued to read in this way, I would not have liked this book as much as I did. Don’t get me wrong, the characters were fun and well written, but as I continued reading I realized this wasn’t just as a love story. I know that it is supposed to be a love story, and it is, but I think it is so much more than that.
I found it to be much more about the experience that so many high school graduates go through. That time at about mid-August when the summer is beginning to wind down and all the high school kids are getting ready to start the school year. It is at this time that all those soon-to-be college freshmen are getting ready to head off to school. And whether they are going away to study on the other side of the country or they are starting at the community college or working at home, they will be saying goodbye to the people and who they were in high school. I felt as though this was what was really supposed to be taken away from this book. That the love story was almost secondary to that of the story of changing relationships, whether that be friendships, the relationships that you have with your parents, or that of a first love, and that everyone, and I mean everyone, handles those changes in a different way.
Now, I may have seen the book in this light because I work with high school students and I see it happen every year, or that I very clearly remember my own experience of saying goodbye to my friends and leaving for college. If you want to read it for the love story, I would suggest it, it was a good, sweet story, but I was moved much more by the bigger, broader idea of change rather than that of the love story.
The main characters, Clare and Aidan, I felt were lacking in personality, and I actually found them rather annoying. However, the secondary characters are delightful. Stella and Scotty are so much fun. Each of the characters seem to fit into four stereotypical high school social groups.
Clare – Clare is your high achiever who is always focused on academics. I found Clare rather whiny. While I understand that she was supposed to be
a conflicted character due to the situation she is going through. I wanted to her to
make up her mind without
all the drama, but then, that would
n’t have made for a very good story, would it?
Aidan – Aidan is your jock. I’m having a hard time saying anything about
him because he is a very one-dimensional character. While he cares for Clare, I was never able to see much growth in him. He never changed, when Clare, Stella, and Scotty do.
Stella – Stella is a bit of an outsider. I think she could fit into a different group depending on the school she was at. I think this is part of the reason I like her so much. Stella, in comparison to Clare, was much more realistic to me. While she may have been conflicted because she needed to say goodbye to the three people closest to her for the last three years, she wasn’t nearly as drama ridden. However, we weren’t inside Stella’s head either. We, as people, have a tendency to work through a lot of drama inside our heads.
Scotty – Scotty is hilarious. He is your stereotypical class clown. The kid who has tons of academic potential, but never actually gets around to applying it because he’s too busy goofing around and having fun. Scotty makes this story highly entertaining.
This book would have gotten a lower rating based solely on its characters and the love story. However, due to the beautiful way Jennifer E. Smith connects with the reader, and makes them feel the difficulty, hurt, and, yes, joy of a major life change, Hello, Goodbye, and Everything In-Between gets a B!