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

They say you never forget your first love. But that’s exactly what Clare’s trying to do. It’s the last night before Clare and her boyfriend Aidan head off to college; the last night that they will spend together as a couple. On the precipice of the new chapter of their lives, they’ve agreed that a clean break is best.

To mark their last hours together, Clare has planned a night full of memorable markers as an emotional send-off for the both of them. Clare has it all mapped out: the place of their first meeting, their first conversation together, their first kiss, where they first shared a dance together. Clare is convinced that the only way she and Aidan will be able to truly enjoy college life is to make absolutely certain that they leave no ties behind.

Jennifer E. Smith has produced a light and entertaining read that romance lovers will enjoy. As the night unfolds, so does the story of Clare and Aidan’s relationship. Along with their early days, Smith paints a bigger picture to widen their world, revealing their friend circles, familial struggles and life’s ambitions. The reader becomes a part of the history that Clare and Aidan are trying to memorialize.

But, of course, plans never go the way you want them to. The night is not without surprises and unforeseen obstacles soon start popping up, one of the main ones being that Aidan is still not convinced about their need to break up. Their differing views on love fuels the main conflict of the novel.

While the story itself was fun and enjoyable, some of the characters could have benefitted from more development. Some secondary characters felt rather flat, and I found that I wasn’t overly invested in the relationships Clare and Aidan had with them. Clare and Aidan’s journey, too, in its entirety is probably not to everyone’s taste. Considering their agonising at the start, the ending was a little less than satisfactory and a bit rushed.

Having said that, this is a light story that readers will breeze through. Peppered throughout with humour and with a sweet romance at its centre, it makes for a pleasant read.

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TITLE: Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between
AUTHOR(S): Jennifer E. Smith
PUBLISHER: Hachette
RRP: $24.99
ISBN: 9781472221032

Faustina was reading when she popped out of the womb. Probably. Reading is her life, and she’ll read pretty much anything. After reading her way through primary, high school, and university, and finding she hasn’t gotten sick of it, she’s still reading now. Her favourite genres are YA, realist fiction, and magical realist fiction, with a strong focus on diversity. She believes that houses should have in-built bookshelves in all the rooms, and that ebooks and printed books can get along.

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