Hello, Goodbye, and Everything In Between

Book review by
Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media
Hello, Goodbye, and Everything In Between Book Poster Image
Soon-to-part lovers debate what-ifs in smart romance.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

A glimpse at the emotional rite of passage after high school.

Positive Messages

Urges teens to look at their relationships and consider the question: Who are we when we're not together? When we're wrapped up in our own challenges, it's sometimes easy to forget that those around us are living their own dramas. Strong, lasting relationships require patient, ongoing communication. Change can be simultaneously exciting and terrifying.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Clare and Aidan share a mature, romantic relationship: They recognize each other's less admirable traits and support each other through difficult, sometimes ugly emotions. Each starts with a different view of how they should handle their relationship, but both want to seize the opportunities ahead. Their parents are caring and engaged, even if their actions are sometimes misguided.

Violence

Best friends -- one of them drunk -- fight at a party, injuring each other and a bystander.

Sex

Several affectionate kisses and two instances of sexual intercourse, which are described with subtlety and no detail.

Language

Occasional coarse language used with strong emotion: "hell," "pissed," "prick," and "bulls--t."

Consumerism

Mentions of Volvo, Hacky Sack, and several brands of candy.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Underage drinking, sometimes to excess, is generally presented in an unflattering light and sometimes for humorous effect, but it's clearly routine. One teen is picked up by police after being found drunk. Reference to smoking cigars in the past.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Hello, Goodbye, and Everything In Between is a smartly considered romance by Jennifer E. Smith (The Geography of You and Me). Her college-bound couple is loyal and affectionate, torn between their urge to test their wings -- solo -- and the comfort and support they find in each other. Smith's teen characters are bright and thoughtful, committed to their relationships, and willing to try to ride out the ups and downs. This realistic portrayal has them moving through teen-centric settings out of parents' sight: the neighborhood party house, the basement where they have sex, a quiet spot by the lake. There's underage drinking, a fight, some poor judgment, and a bit of petty theft. Expect occasional coarse language ("hell," "pissed," "prick," "bulls--t"). The book is marketed toward age 12 and up, but the portrayal of teen drinking as de rigueur in a story with such appealing characters might give parents of impressionable tweens pause. 

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What's the story?

Clare and Aidan have only 12 hours before they leave their town, their families, and each other to begin college 3,000 miles apart. After two wonderful years together, they're down to their last night – and they still don't know whether they should break up or try to stay together despite the looming physical and emotional distance. Clare, the careful, organized planner, is prepared with an itinerary for the night and an argument for why they should split. Aidan would prefer to see where the night -- and their future -- leads them. As they revisit key moments of their past and contemplate what's in store, they grapple with complicated goodbyes to their friends, their families, and everything familiar.

Is it any good?

This engaging romance is Before Sunrise for teens, chronicling the final night at home for a likable couple trying to imagine their future -- together and apart. Deciding who you want to be isn't done in a vacuum: The people we take with us -- and those we leave behind -- help shape us. In HELLO, GOODBYE, AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN, author Jennifer E. Smith eloquently captures the strange, bittersweet moment when it feels as if your whole life is ahead of you even as the world around you is crumbling.

There's lots of talking but also a fight, a nighttime swim, a candy-shopping spree, and lots of driving, giving the novel a restless energy. Smith gets teens with a genuine authenticity, and Clare and Aidan soon feel like familiar friends. Devoted romantics will swoon, and anxious kids preparing to leave home may find themselves with a playbook for the changes ahead.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about romances. Most romantic stories focus on the beginning of a relationship. How does this one compare?

  • Does the party, as it's depicted with teenage drinking, seem like the kind of place you want to be? Do Clare and Aidan seem particularly eager to be there? Parents might want to talk with kids about underage drinking in the media.

  • Do you like the resolution of the couple's dilemma, or would you have preferred it to be left open-ended?

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