Cute high school romantic fare.
Genre: Y/A, Contemporary, Romance
No. of pages: 246
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?
Jennifer E. Smith never fails to grab you with a cute contemporary, and ‘Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between’ is just that.
This wasn’t the best read for me – maybe I wasn’t it the right mood for a contemporary like this – and maybe there wasn’t enough story for me to sink my teeth into. Following our protagonist Clare as she is about to head off to the other side of the country for college and saying goodbye to her boyfriend by revisiting all of the places that benchmark developments in their relationship before ending things for good… and that’s the entire plot. I have to say there wasn’t a lot about ‘Hello, Goodbye’ and Everything in Between’ that grabbed my attention. In fact I skimmed nearly this entire novel. And it’s only a short book… but it still took me a really long time to finish. I kept putting it down due to lack of interest.
It’s a pity. Smith’s writing is endearing and she really paints a landscape in setting a scene. We get some poignant symbolism. But I was really missing some more interesting (possibly diverse) characters. And something other than angst about saying goodbye to your high school boyfriend. I hate to say it, but ‘Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between’ felt a little self-indulgent and shallow. I feel if the main characters had a couple of more realistic problems to navigate and didn’t feel so privileged white middle class America; this story would have been a much different creature.
There’s not much else I can say about ‘Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between’ because it is so short, and not a lot happens. No big character arcs or personal growth, no huge obstacles… because of this the pacing felt slow and the tension was fairly non-existent. I did like the angst, but when that is all you have in the plot it can become tired.
So, a cute novel, I think a younger demographic would really enjoy it because of the relevance to their situation, but for an old duck like me, it wasn’t that inspiring. I wouldn’t recommend this one (but maybe if you are a total stan for Jennifer E. Smith, or a junkie for high school romance.)
Overall feeling: Meh.
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3 thoughts on “Book Review – ‘Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between’ by Jennifer E. Smith”
I feel like this idea is something Always and Forever Lara Jean handled really well and interestingly. So it *can* be done. But maybe part of the reason it worked for Jenny Han is that by the time you read the college portion of the book you’re already attached to the characters.
Jenny Han also had her main character dealing with issues of family, identity, idependence, future goals, frienships, to ground her and add a dynamic and layers. ‘Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between’ failed on that account leaving the story feeling flat. Cute, but two dimensional.
That’s a good point, all three of her books had so many themes and complexities.