Hello, Goodbye and Everything In Between

Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith

Tomorrow will take Aidan and Clare in opposite directions. He will head west to UCLA while Clare travels east to Dartmouth. After two years, they have just this one final night together. Clare has planned a nostalgic goodbye tour so that they can revisit their greatest hits while having a painless, remorse-free break-up.  Aidan only hopes he can persuade her that this doesn’t need to be the end.  Obviously, things don’t quite as they’d expected. Throughout the course of their final night before college, Aidan and Clare will try to determine their future and whether or not it will include each other.

I read YA all the time, and this one made me feel OLD. I just couldn’t quite get into it. Part of that is the fact that I just didn’t find either Clare or Aidan to be particularly compelling characters.  But it isn’t the characters that were driving this story.  It was that very particular situation of leaving everything you know and care about behind as you go into the world.  And for me that was so terribly long ago that even a book brimming with emotion couldn’t quite draw me back in.  It is truly a shame that this wasn’t released in August as I bet a lot of almost-freshman would have clung to it like a life raft.  As it is, if your teen is off at school it might make a welcome package down in the mail room.

Even though it didn’t draw me in there were things I really liked about it.  Clare is so wrapped up in her own life and drama that she completely misses that her best friend needs her.  She ends up being kind of a bad friend and she doesn’t even recover quickly when she’s called on it.  While they patch up their differences later, I think her behavior and response are so very real and honest.  It’s what actually happens in real life and I always love seeing that in a book.  Also, while Clare and Aiden were a bit on the dull side, Scotty and Stella had plenty of sparkle and left me wanting to know more about their story.

One final note, the book ends with a Prologue which gives you some information about what the future holds.  I would have preferred to teeter on the brink of the unknown, but I know lots of people really feel the need for some type of closure.

Age Recommendation: As far as content and reading ability, this would be fine for 8th Grade and up. However the highly specific nature of the content, I really think it will be best received by teens who are heading off to school or young adults currently in college.

Sex, Nudity, Dating – Couples kiss.  There is handholding.  A couple remembers the first time they had sex. The word is not used in the book, no details are given other than that they waited until it felt right and they’d been together for a year.  Later they lay down on a sofa together and it is implied that it might occur again, but it is very vague.
Profanity – “God”, “prick”, “hell”, “pissed”, not profanity, but there is a joke about “slow friends” and jokes about mental ability aren’t actually funny.
Death, Violence and Gore – There is a fist fight between friends that results in both of them having facial injuries and a bystander getting hurt.
Drugs, Alcohol and Smoking – Teens drink beverages from a cooler; one is referred to as a bartender, but alcohol is not specifically mentioned in this part. They talk about sneaking in bars.   Some teens seem to be drunk, but it is not specifically mentioned.  Later there’s a party where the teen always serves alcohol that belongs to her parents.  Characters are intoxicated.  Teens steal cigars and smoke them.
Frightening or Intense Things – None.

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