Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Headline Publishing Group (1st Sep 2015)
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?
This new must-read novel from Jennifer E. Smith, author of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, explores the difficult choices that must be made when life and love lead in different directions.
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I’ve been a firm fan of Smith’s stories, especially for her quirky titles and stunningly designed covers - the review for her previous books, The Geography of You and Me, and This Is What Happy Looks Like can be found once you hit the links.
Thank you as always to Headline and Bookbridgr for sending me this book for review. I’ve been familiar with Smith’s work for a while now and this book was no different in terms of style and substance. Very easy to read, a simple story with a simple message. If you’re going to be picking up one of her books, go in with your eyes open. I don’t know if the author intended this or not, but for me personally it feels like these stories aren’t meant to be ultra hard-hitting, life altering with a deep message that shakes you to your very core, you know?
Instead I feel like these are light stories, cute and sweet contemporary stories for you to ride out. Why do I say this with such conviction? Because all her books take place over 12-48 hour spans only. Such a timeframe instantly invites the “instalove” criticism, where the characters are too hasty, fall in love too quickly, yada yada - I mean yes such instant attraction is possible and does happen, but in the case of Smith’s books, they’re not meant to be as such but instead are small and quick romantic journeys for you to ride out whilst on the way to work, or at the beach - short, and sweet in essence. With that in mind, I feel like readers should be more well equipped when picking up one of her books - but also having said that, if you find a deeper, more personal message from her books then honestly that’s great! For me personally, like I said, they’re nothing more than bursts of cuteness and fun.
Back to the review I go! :) HGAEIB (for short) comes to us with two characters, in a relationship, on the night of their departure for different colleges, romantically weighing the pros and cons of staying together, long distance. Though I’ve never dealt with the situation myself, I know for many teens, that’s a pivotal moment for them - deciding whether their relationship can outlast distance and college woes or whether they should break up and see if life brings them back together in the end. For Aidan and Clare, they make a list and take a trip down memory lane to revisit moments of their past, in the hopes it can guide them into a decision that will affect their future.
I enjoyed the layout and structure of this book, especially the individual headings that were a marker for their memories. It’s a nice way of exploring their past and adventures in a way that will help the plot in making their choice. Having said that, it felt like to me Clare had already decided and was adamant in seeing that through, which from her end at least, made the whole point of reminiscing rather pointless.
Character wise, I felt like Aidan was the stronger of the two - who felt more natural, more romantically involved too, and I felt like he really did want to make it work and was willing to put the effort in. While Clare just seemed like she wasn’t truly willing to give it what it took. I understood that she was being cautious and the declaration of love isn’t one she took lightly - but the feelings were there for them both, definitely, especially after how long their relationship has lasted. But on Clare’s end, if she wasn’t willing to even try to make it work long distance, which would strengthen their bond, then she wasn’t in the same place as Aidan. For me, it was just hard to warm to Clare’s character, with it being easier to like Aidan, especially given the family situation he’s in. I wanted to root for them both, really I did, but I felt like Aidan deserved better.
The one thing I do really enjoy about Smith’s endings, and with HGAEIB the same applies - is that there’s never a dead end; in the sense that there’s an air of hope. For some that may not be definitive enough, but I think for the style of books she writes and the content involved, the light airy-ness of her books, it works well for her to wrap books up in this manner. I’m all for it for one.
Overall, admittedly I didn’t enjoy this one as much as The Geography of You and Me, but I can appreciate that it’s a different book of course. The title and cover are stunning as always and that will always help me in liking a book more, as shallow as it may seem, but I’m big on aesthetic, not enough to overpower substance, but these things do go a big way in making a difference in perception. Will still be picking up more of Smith’s books in the future.