Tuesday 1 September 2015

Reviewed: Hello, Goodbye, and Everything In Between by Jennifer E. Smith

Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between is published by Headline on September 1, 2015.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy to review via Bookbridgr.

Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between is the second book I’ve read by Jennifer E. Smith after The Geography of You and Me which I really adored. I really enjoy the sweet romance she writes and now, in both the books I’ve read, it’s been easy as anything to root for the two main characters and want everything to work out for them. Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between is a little different to the traditional contemporary romance as this book is about two characters spending their last night together, rather than meeting for the first time. Set over twelve hours, this book tells the story of Clare and Aidan who are both heading off in separate ways to go to college. The practical side to Clare has told her that a long distance relationship wouldn’t work at their age and so their final night is about reliving memories and coming to terms with the end of what has been such a happy couple of years for them. I felt like Jennifer really quite wonderfully took me along on this emotional rollercoaster of a night for Clare and Aidan. I felt for them and rooted for a happier ending than what they were planning on. Over a short space of time, I grew attached to these characters and found their story to be entertaining and a really enjoyable read.

I loved the format of this novel. Set in ‘stops’ from Clare’s list instead of straight-forward chapters, we get to see the various places that have meant something throughout the course of Clare and Aidan’s relationship. I thought this was a really simple yet effective touch that helped me buy into the lead-up to a break-up of a couple I initially knew nothing about. With the book being set in the final twelve hours of their relationship, it meant a lot of the story had to cover them falling in love and the memories they shared, else I wouldn’t have been able to care for or connect with their romance. But the style of this book felt effortless and not only did I buy into their romance, I was dead against them splitting up! Clare’s feelings towards long-distance relationships felt a bit dated to me and even though I could see where she was coming from because it would be difficult for them to not see each other, I couldn’t help but feel that if they were so in love, emails and Skype and texts and all the other social things technology brings meant they wouldn’t really be that far apart. I think Aidan probably agreed with that theory, too, but I was interested to see how they would end up at the end.

Another aspect I really liked about this book was the flashbacks as we get to see the makings of Clare and Aidan’s relationship. They had shared some really sweet moments together and you could see why both of them were so anxious about the following day when things between them had to come to an end. The flashbacks were well delivered, drawing on the past but also ensuring what was currently happening was evident too. I guess I loved how fitting the content of this novel was to the title, as the hello, goodbye and the bits in between were all prominent and interesting. Compared to the flashbacks, there was a fair bit of drama slotted into twelve present hours. Sometimes I wondered how harsh words and actions were so easily forgotten but then again, caught up in the last few emotional hours of a relationship, I found that pretty understandable as well. I was also pleasantly surprised by how much this book kept me guessing until the end.

Another quick mention has to go to the supporting characters in this novel, Aidan’s best friend Scotty and Clare’s best friend Stella. For such a short space of time to learn about them, I managed that easily as they were so well-drawn and added a different dimension to the story. I really felt for Scotty especially, as with Stella heading off to college too, he was pretty much being left behind by all his closest friends, which left him needing to work out what to do with himself now. His friendship with Aidan was fascinating, not the easiest but I could see an almost unbreakable bond there. Aidan’s relationship with his father was also one that drew me in – things weren’t great between them and I wondered if it would be possible to resolve that in so little time. A book set over the course of one day is not an easy thing to write. I know Jennifer has written others like this which I’ll be looking to read soon. But here, with Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between, I think she pulled it off beautifully. I was drawn in quickly, attached to the characters, connected with the stories and satisfied when it ended. So I couldn’t have asked for much more. This is a truly heartfelt novel, a quick novel to read but one which left an impression on me and has since had me wondering what’s going on in the lives of Aidan and Clare.

A well-written story delivered over the course of one day - compelling and heartfelt

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