All of Jennifer E. Smith’s young adult books have a distinctive look. Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between was my first, and it was a delight.
One thing I like about reading young adult novels is that they take me back to a specific place in time. They also help me relate to my daughter. In this case, my daughter will be going off to college this summer, just like Claire and Aidan, the subjects of the novel. It’s such a big time, leaving your past behind, wondering what your future holds. I sort of remember that myself even though it was so many years ago.
Claire and Aidan have been coupled off throughout high school. Their reactions to situations are filtered through the other person. If they can’t share it with the other, it’s like it never even happened. They are both leaving the midwest, Claire for New England and Aidan for California. Doesn’t breaking up make the most sense?
The entire book takes place in one very long all-nighter, the night before they are leaving for college. But we readers do learn about the hello, the goodbye, and many things in between, because Claire has set up an elaborate farewell visiting places which represent all their milestones which takes them on a trip down memory lane. They also discuss a fair amount of their futures, why they knew their selected colleges were right for them and how they envision fitting in while simultaneously pondering the merits of staying together versus splitting up.
This is typical teen fare, but it’s so specific and perfect. The content was pretty tame for a novel about 18-year-olds, and I appreciate that. My own daughter’s life is not the type that is portrayed in many YA novels which purport to mirror the culture. There are lots of different types of teenagers. The novel Roomies addresses some of the same topics, but with the addition of some more mature content.
NOTES ON THE AUDIOBOOK
Amy Tallmadge did a great job of narrating the book, making it an easy listen. The type of story it is lends itself well to the audiobook format as well, blending looking back and looking forward with a few out-of-the-box capers. You can listen to a sample at the audible page.