A black & white image of a couple kisses on a pier with an outline of a city in pink in the distance.

About the Book

Title: Hello, Goodbye, and Everything In Between
Published: 2015
Swoonworthy Scale: 5

Cover Story: The Jennifer E. Smith Treatment
BFF Charm: Roger Murtaugh
Talky Talk: Straight Up
Bonus Factor: College Transition
Relationship Status: Keep In Touch

Cover Story: The Jennifer E. Smith Treatment

This cover, with its black and white photograph, playful typography, and bold accent of color, follows the pattern of Smith’s previous covers, and while it’s not revolutionary, it does the job. I particularly dig the city outline, a nod to the future destinations of the two main characters.

The Deal:

Do you remember the night before you left for college? Were you scared? Excited? Sad to leave your friends and family? Eager for a clean slate?

For Aidan and Clare, this mix of emotions is heightened by the fact that they love each other… and they’re heading to school on opposite coasts. Clare is convinced that it’s better to break up rather than let their relationship deteriorate, while Aidan believes that they can make it work long-distance. They’ve got one more night to make a decision before they leave for college, so Clare creates a list of important places in their history, and they spend the next 12 hours visiting their “greatest hits” in the hope that their hearts will find an answer.

BFF Charm: Roger Murtaugh x 2

BFF charm with Roger Murtagh from Lethal Weapon's face.

Just because I’m too old for their shizz doesn’t mean I didn’t like Clare and Aidan. Clare, hyperorganized and studious, definitely reminds me of my teen self, while Aidan, goofy and sweet, is completely adorable. They’re good kids, and they’re grappling with something incredibly real and complicated, but it was hard to observe them, on the brink of breaking out of that high school bubble, and not feel super old. Everything seems so important when you’re 18, and it is important, but in the grand scheme of things, the impact of your decisions isn’t as earth-shattering as it feels.

One thing in particular that drove me crazy was Clare’s refusal to say, “I love you,” to Aidan, even when she clearly loves him, because she won’t speak those three words until she knows “it’s forever.” GIRLFRIEND. You’re a teenager. LIGHTEN UP.

Swoonworthy Scale: 5

Jennifer E. Smith is more than capable of delivering romance, which is why I relish the fact that she’s trying something new with this novel. Rather than a journey toward the big kiss and happy ending, the story of Clare and Aidan is actually a deconstruction of their relationship—it’s an examination of what drew them together and what keeps them together, as much as it is an acknowledgement that love doesn’t always conquer all. Their last 24 hours together are messy, and not necessarily pretty, but they certainly make for an interesting read.

Talky Talk: Straight Up

In chapters organized by stops on their greatest hits tour, the narrative of Clare and Aidan is told in the third person, with a focus on Clare’s inner turmoil. Her angst and confusion about the impending changes in her life infuse the pages with poignancy, while the energetic dialogue and the 24-hour countdown keep the momentum building at a good pace.

Bonus Factor: College Transition

Elle Woods in a Harvard classroom

It’s rare for a YA book to focus on that liminal time between high school and college, and Smith’s exploration of that bittersweet transition is my favorite aspect of this novel. She really captures both the heady anticipation of crossing the threshold and the mourning for the world you leave behind:

She thinks, for a moment, about all the things her parents have been telling her this summer. How college is the first chapter of the rest of your life. The beginning of everything. The place where you meet your lifelong friends.

There’s a moment when Aidan and Clare go to their restaurant hangout, and a group of younger students have already taken over their usual booth. It’s an acknowledgement that time doesn’t stop, that when you leave, life resumes in your wake, and that devastating realization is, for many of us, the first major step in adulthood.

Relationship Status: Keep In Touch

Book, the thoughts and feelings you shared with me truly resonated, especially when it came to taking that giant leap from high school to college. Your sensitivity made you sweet but never saccharine, and while I don’t think we should tie ourselves down to each other, I am so very glad you’re heading out into the world. Keep in touch, because I can’t wait to see what you’ll do in the hands of other readers.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Poppy. This review was originally posted on Kirkus Reviews in exchange for monetary compensation, which did not affect or influence my opinions. Hello, Goodbye, and Everything In Between is available now.

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Sarah lives in Austin, and believes there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure, which is part of why she started FYA in 2009. Growing up, she thought she was a Mary Anne, but she's finally starting to accept the fact that she's actually a Kristy.