Sunday, 22 May 2016

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

Title: Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between
Author(s): Jennifer E. Smith
Release Date: 1st September 2015
Publisher: Headline
Genre: YA, Romance, Contemporary
Source: Publisher

One night. A life-changing decision. And a list...

Of course Clare made a list. She creates lists for everything. That's just how she is.

But tonight is Clare and Aidan's last night before college and this list will decide their future, together or apart.

It takes them on a rollercoaster ride through their past - from the first hello in science class to the first conversation at a pizza joint, their first kiss at the beach and their first dance in a darkened gymnasium - all the way up to tonight.

A night of laughs, fresh hurts, last-minute kisses and an inevitable goodbye.

But will it be goodbye forever or goodbye for now?


A typical contemporary romance is all about the falling in love. There's the meeting, the getting to know each other, the steady and slow (and more often than not, eventful) progression until the couple finally get together and that's the happily ever after. The end.

This is not a typical contemporary romance.

The book begins where most end; the 'after'. After a two year relationship and with only twelve hours before they go their separate ways to complete opposite ends of the country to start college, Clare and Aidan need to make a decision. Either they attempt to maintain a long distance relationship or they break up. I was somewhat skeptical about this premise, but had heard amazing things about the author so I decided to give it a go. I was definitely craving a heartwarming romance, and that was exactly what I got!

This unconventional premise is helped along very smartly by the characters. Clare organizes everything in her life; when faced with the decision about the future of her relationship, she makes a list of all the meaningful places where they both shared important moments, in the hope that will help with the process. As they go from place to place she reminisces about those moments, and while it could after a while feel like an info dump, here it flows quite well with the main plot line. All that background that is usually witnessed as it happens by a reader is still there, and by the end of this book I felt like I had read two.

My absolute favorite aspect of 'Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between' is how it steps away from stereotypical characterization. Aidan is the hopeless romantic that tries with all his might to keep the relationship alive, while Clara seems more practical and somewhat 'detached'. It was refreshing seeing a romance where it wasn't the woman that inevitably is connected with the more emotional side. Men have feelings, too!

Each chapter header keeps track of what time it is in the story and where the characters are, and I found it extremely helpful. As someone that often loses track of timelines and details when reading a book, this aid was incredibly welcomed. Especially considering how short of a timeline it spans, if it weren't for that reminder I would have probably ended up thinking halfway through the book that it had already been way more than twelve hours of events.

Not all is sunshine and roses, however. I found myself disliking Clara in more than one occasion. She comes across as incredibly self-centered, and I would take it as more of a negative against this book if that weren't something that she gets called out on during the story and develops on. Aidan also has his share of bad moments; there are some scenes where, if I was in Clara's place, I would have just called it a day and packed my bags without looking back. I had to constantly remind myself that romance at that age is (often) exactly like this; it's consuming and what most matters for everyone involved. The same happened with all the characters' expectations about going to college. Again, I had to think back and remember that I too once thought that taking that step would be a life changing event.

As accurate as it is, it just made me feel old. But that's beside the point.

It's hard to really develop on my thoughts about the book without spoiling the ending. As I read on I really warmed up to these characters and was rooting for them to work everything out. The tension that builds up to the very last page is to such a degree that I found myself covering the very last sentence and taking several deep breaths before reading it, because it held the ultimate fate of this couple that had nestled into a cozy place in my heart. In the end it was, to me, a satisfying resolution that I wasn't expecting from the beginning, something hard to achieve when it seems there are only two ways to go!

'Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between' is a quick, touching read about two people that love each other to such a degree that they do not want to ever be placed in a situation where they just aren't in each others lives, either in a relationship or not. If you are looking for an adorable 'one sitting read' this will definitely fill that gap and leave you with a full heart!

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