Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between is a book about uncertain futures.
Look at me, summing up a book in a single sentence. Is this a phenomena that has never been seen before? Perhaps.
Anyway, that’s what it is. & the premise is actually pretty clever. The book takes place over a single night. The last night Claire and Aiden have together before they leave for college as they decide whether they should break up or do the whole long distance thing. That’s what drew me to it, that it’s a little bit different, that this is a whole novel centred around Just One Night. I am always all about the books that take a step away from convention.
It’s the first of Jennifer E Smith’s books that I’ve read, FYI. I’ve heard a load of stuff about The Statistical Probability of Love At First Sight, although I’ve not actually read it and that along with the general buzz that surrounded HGaEiB was more than enough to make me curl up under a blanket with some beef Space Raiders and give it a go.
I liked it. It’s a story with a lot of heart and the romance is just the right level of sweet and it’s honest and relevant.
I never went away to university. I never went to university at all. I got a job at 18 and it’s the same job I have now and it’s funny because I felt like people were disappointed and even now people seem surprised when they find out that I don’t have a degree and sometimes I feel a bit weird even admitting it. What’s that about. It was the right choice for me though, and I’m a director now of the company I started working for when everybody else set off for uni and so you know, I reckon I did ok. & I have no idea why I have gone off on that tangent. What was the point I was trying to make? Oh,that’s it. Relatability and uncertain futures and how that’s the same for pretty much everyone whatever your life might look like on the cusp of adulthood. Whilst I didn’t have to make any of the choices Aiden and Claire made and whilst the direction my own life took meant that I felt a little bit distant from them and didn’t understand all of their reasons or thought processes, I bet there’s teenagers all over the place that find something they can relate to in Claire and Aiden’s story. Even if they’re not faced with an LDR themselves the whole growing up and moving on and not being entirely sure what your future looks like, or even what you want it to look like, well, it happens to us all. & whilst I am all about the fantasy and the dystopia and the out-of-this world stuffs right now (always) sometimes you just need a book that looks like your life, that makes you feel like what’s going on in your head isn’t that messed up at all. It’s good sometimes to be able to identify, especially when you’re a teenager and you find yourself quite easily feeliong isolated. This book hits that spot.
I love the idea of reading a goodbye love story rather than a hello and watching Aiden and Claire retrace their relationship was mostly sweet, although to be perfectly honest it was also kind of depressing. I felt like I knew exactly what decision they were going to make from chapter one (and no, I’m not going to tell you if I was right because HELLO ALMIGHTY SPOILER) and because I thought I had it all figured out, it felt like that walk down memory lane you do after you’ve had your heart broken rather than an optimistic look for reasons to make it work. & that just made me feel a little bit depressed. Just a little bit. Also Claire bugged me a small amount, I mean not loads, but enough to stop me engaging fully with the book or really sympathising with her at all. Which, well, that’s always kind of a problem, isn’t it? I actually liked the secondary characters more than I liked either Claire or Aiden, Again, kind of problematic.
When Helen and I went with our Mum’s to see Priscilla, Queen of the Desert in London a few years ago, Helen’s mum said as we left the theatre that ‘the best bit of that show was the end.’ I’m saying the same thing here, not for the same reason as Helen’s Mum who really didn’t enjoy Priscilla at all (I did like this book) but because it kind of was. The way the ends all tied together neatly, the way the story developed and came together all packed up and wrapped nicely in a bow. I liked that. It ended how I wanted it to end and that made me happy.
This is a nice book and it’s an easy book and it’s a book that people are mostly going to like I think, it’s good.