Jennifer E. Smith
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Release Date:September 1st, 2015
Publisher: Poppy Publishing House
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Thanks to Poppy Publishing House for the ARC I received at BEA and thanks to Jen E. Smith for signing it (and gracing me with her presence in a photograph)!
There's something to be said about a book that makes you resonate with an experience that isn't yours.
The whole time, I didn't feel like I was just reading about two teenagers deciding whether or not to break up on their last night before leaving for college on opposite sides of the country; I felt like I was part of the last hurrah, like I hadn't actually finished my sophomore year of college three months ago and that this book was Just For Me in my Time of Need even though realistically I did not have to break up with anyone before leaving for college which was, like I said, two years ago, and most of my friends, barring a few outliers, either went to Rutgers which was 20 minutes away or went to other not-exceptionally-far-but-far-enough-to-dorm schools. Sure, I had painful goodbyes but you've got four best friends here and three of them are leaving the next day, all to different parts of the country, and it's this dramatic night of running to places where they've had big experiences in their relationship and I just felt like I was a part of it even though I should have been removed from the situation, which I just think is the mark of a great book.
The couple in question is Clare and Aidan. Clare is the level-headed, list-making, practical one. Aidan is the more go-with-your-gut, impulsive kinda guy. Smith does a good job of not making them too much these tropes -- Clare isn't too attached to her list (she makes a list of places to go that each signify something important, a "greatest hits" or "refresher course" of their relationship) and when some things can't be done, she rolls with it; likewise, Aidan gets serious about things like the word "love," his friendship with Scotty, and his relationship with his Dad and how he didn't ever want to go to Harvard. They are never too much of the "serious girl" or the "chill guy" and this is why they have chemistry.
They also work because they aren't perfect throughout the book. As the story progresses we learn of fears and setbacks in their relationships, we see fights and problems. We watch them become a dynamic couple rather than a hopelessly in love set of collegebound students.
Their friends add another set of dimension. Scotty, Aidan's best friend, and Stella, Clare's best friend, add another set of drama to the story. Clare's relationship with Stella is on the rocks but she's so focused on making a decision about breaking up with Aidan or not that she can't grasp what's in front of her with Stella, which is frustrating because the reader will definitely understand. Scotty and Aidan aren't in the clear either -- they end up duking it out in a fistfight. Last night of college and you might break it off with your significant other of two years as well as lose your best friend? Talk about rough.
I finished this book in one sitting because I started it expecting not to know the verdict on the breakup situation until the very end but surprise surprise, the decision happens somewhere in the middle of the book, (which is something I loved by the way, because I had just let down my guard and was expecting more running around and lists and there it was) and then I finished it expecting her to pull something and change their minds at the last second because there was an entire half a book to go.
It's a pretty short read so I suspect the one sitting thing will be common but I'm warning you now, this book is a very cute, light, fluffy, read, and if you aren't a fan of those, and like things with a little more meat and heavy plot and things like that, I would probably skip this one.
I know I accidentally let all my reviews get annoyingly long but I just want to add one last thing that I forgot to mention. My favorite quote from the book is one about Scotty, who isn't going away to school:
"The only thing harder than leaving is being left behind."It isn't a revolutionary concept, but it's poignant, and relateable to a lot of people, and having someone who wasn't leaving helped ground the story a little, although half the fun of the book was that it was this dramatic book and in the town all their friends went away and they had One Last Night and there was a party and stealing and jail (unrelated) and punching and not drowning. Overall an excellent book; Jen E. Smith definitely did not disappoint.
Amrutha's Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between Review
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Loved this. Jennifer E. Smith is back at it with this one and it's honestly so great. Like Noor said though, this is a fluff piece, which personally I am all about, so if you aren't, you might not like it as much as we did.
I'm a sophomore in college now, and just last week I had my goodbye dinners with my friends who go to school far away (there aren't that many of them and even they are only a few hours away). And while I didn't have an SO to break up with, I do fully understand the idea of thinking you might lose your loved ones due to distance.
It's such a complex feeling, where you might lose someone due to circumstances outside of your control, and I've never read anything that made it so I could wrap my head around all of the craziness of leaving and getting left behind. I really felt this story because of where I am in my life, which I think has a lot to do with why I liked it so much.
My consistently favorite thing about Jennifer E. Smith's books are that there is never a static character, and none of them are written stereotypically or to an extreme version -- they are always fleshed out in ways that make me feel like I know them in real life, which I am all about. Clare and Aiden and Scotty and Stella are all honestly so interesting, and more importantly, their relationships are interesting.
As Noor touched on up there, Clare and Stella's issues were really frustrating to me as the reader, because I could see what Clare couldn't. Aiden and Scotty struggling to figure their issues out were very complex as well, and this was so good to me because this book is set in a very small time frame. This is such a short book, and complexity is hard to build in this kind of a fluff novel, so I loved it.
I liked how the book was structured as well, which is to say I liked where certain plot things were addressed, and I don't want to elaborate more on this because I don't want to give anything away.
This book delivered on everything it promised -- good writing, dynamic characters, evolving relationships, and a solid fluffy plot. Couldn't ask for anything more.
Goodbye for now or goodbye forever?
Let us know in the comments!