On the night before they leave for college, Clare and Aidan only have one thing left to do: figure out whether they should stay together or break up. Over the course of twelve hours, they'll retrace the steps of their relationship, trying to find something in their past that might help them decide what their future should be. The night will lead them to friends and family, familiar landmarks and unexpected places, hard truths and surprising revelations. But as the clock winds down and morning approaches, so does their inevitable goodbye. The question is, will it be goodbye for now or goodbye forever?
I wanted to love this one. I really did. I even composed an Ode to Jennifer E. Smith post because she's that awesome. But the truth is that I am lukewarm on this one.
I think the beauty in Jennifer E. Smith's writing comes in her description of falling in love. It's almost magical the way Hadley and Oliver fall in love over their 24 hours in The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. And I never wanted to leave the summer of Ellie and Graham in This Is What Happy Looks Like. Hello, Goodbye was as much looking back as it was looking forward, and maybe that's why I had a hard time getting into it. We weren't moving the plot forward at a good pace because we kept having (necessary) flashbacks. It's like this book wasn't written in past tense or present tense -- it was written in nostalgia tense. (Yes, I know this isn't a real tense, and yes, it is different from past tense. Nostalgia tense doesn't just tell what happened in the past. It immerses you in the emotions of the time with a wistful tone.)
I did like that Jennifer E. Smith took a common problem that many teens face and devoted a novel to it. What to do with the relationship after high school just isn't represented enough, I think, for how often it happens and how big of a decision it is for the parties involved. I also appreciated how the book ended.
I've seen a lot of people love this one, so if you are curious I'd definitely encourage you to give it a read. For me, I just didn't feel the magic, sweet romance in this book that made me eagerly and breathlessly want to keep turning the pages that I did in her others.
Thank you to the folks at Little Brown for sending me a review copy.