August 27, 2015

Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between - Jennifer E. Smith

Title: Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Pages: 256
Publisher: Poppy
Source: BEA15
About: 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?

I usually really like stories that take place over a small period of time (like one night, or 24 hours).  This is one that I think would have benefitted from a little more time to let the story breathe.  It felt a little clumsy shoving all the memories into the “scavenger hunt.”    If it had taken place over their last summer I think it would have been easier to get invested in the characters and feel their pain a little bit more about leaving. 

I found Clare and Aidan really selfish.  Which is sort of okay if you look at the narrative, it’s their last night home before leaving for college, but I’ve addressed that I don't love the timing thing.  The fights and reconciliations didn’t hold as much weight because you don’t really know these people or their relationship.  The reveals like – SPOILER – Aidan LYING to his parents about applying to Harvard (like, what????) aren’t truly impactful because what are they going to do about it, ground him for six hours?  He leaves for UCLA in the morning.  Also, it’s probably because I’m an old now, but going away to college wasn’t that big of a deal?  Like, I was a little upset to leave my friends, but we knew we were going to see each other again in a few weeks.  Not everything changes right away.  If you want to play like leaving for college is this HUGE THING (which I don't really buy into) then you have to build up to an explosion, not just be thrown into someone’s last night.  I feel like so many of the things you feel when you’re leaving for college is because your whole existence becomes this countdown.  There’s too much history you can’t jam into one night.  And you definitely can’t care about it.