My edition: Paperback, published on 1 September 2015 by Headline, 248 pages.
Description: 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 roller-coaster 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?
Jennifer E. Smith has a tendency to write young adult romances that are a bit on the soppy side, yet because they're based around such innovative concepts (and also because they're nice quick reads) they never feel run of the mill. Great examples are The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight and The Geography of You and Me, and Hello, Goodbye, And Everything in Between falls into that same category – and not just because it has another unique title that makes me wish all book titles were longer and more interesting.
So often in romance stories, especially of the YA variety, it focuses on a couple's firsts; the first date, the first kiss, the first night spend together, and so on, but this novel does the exact opposite by taking two people who have been in a relationship for years sharing all their final moments together. One last night in each other's company they do the things they love and have grown accustomed doing together, while reminiscing over all the wonderful moments they've shared those past few years.
Clare and Aidan are about to embark on a new chapter in their lives; college. Having been accepted into schools on opposite sides of the country, Clare thinks the sensible thing to do is to break up, rather than risking the both of them pining after one another when for months they will be able to share little else but fleeting phone calls and stolen moments between classes and endless hours of studying. But she isn't entirely sure if she is ready to let go of Aidan just yet, so she has made a list for their final night in their hometown, which will take them along all the places that mean something to them as a couple.
Clare hopes that spending her last hours before college in Aidan's company, closing the chapter of their relationship one stop at a time, will make her decision easier, but she hasn't counted on unexpected detours along the way courtesy of their best friends Scotty and Stella; not to mention her own conflicting feelings and an unexpected confession from Aidan. Their trip down memory lane swiftly turns into a will-they or won't-they break off their relationship, and it takes some tough choices from both Clare and Aidan along the way until they are ready to make that final decision.
I haven't been a teenager for a very (very) long time, yet reading the pages of this novel I instantly felt myself regress to times where each decision – about school, life and love – felt like the most important, definite and final choice of my life. I have since learned that very rarely is anything quite so ultimate, but I remember that feeling, and the immense pressure that came with it, vividly. Author Jenner E. Smith has captured it perfectly within her latest novel and as a reader you're instantly swept away in the single-minded world of Clare and Aidan, feeling drawn to their struggle and simultaneously wanting them to stay together as they're so perfect for one another, and break up so they don't miss out on important college experiences by pining after each other.
Both Clare and Aidan were great characters that I instantly adored them. And their sugary sweet perfect romance was balanced well by the whirlwind excitement provided by Scotty and Stella's escapades, which ensured that this novel never felt too nauseatingly perfect on the romance front. I've mentioned before that Jennifer E. Smith is innovative in her storytelling and the ending is another great example of this. I won't say more to not spoil it for those who have yet to read this book, all I will say is that I loved it (or I should say, I doved it – a little inside joke there) and I think more novels would benefit from this fun little tidbit at the end.
Hello, Goodbye, And Everything in Between shows that a story about endings can be just as sweet and charming as one about beginnings. It's all about the way the characters are portrayed and the captivating journey they go on – not their destination – and Jennifer E. Smith gets that 100% right every single time.
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Many thanks to the publisher for a copy of the novel through Bookbridgr in exchange for an honest review.