Summary: On the night before they leave for college, Clare and Aidan have only one thing left to do: figure out whether they should stay together or break up. Over the course of twelve hours, they 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 leads them to family and friends, 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? [Goodreads]
If you’re like me and love contemporary novels, then you should read all of Jennifer E. Smith’s books, because they always manage to make me a little more emotional than I’d like to admit. I really liked the setup of this story, with the short time frame that still kept the book fresh and moving along without skipping time. The story was fun, while also focusing on the hardships that go along with leaving everything you know behind to go to college (something I have yet to experience in real life). There was the funny stuff, the sweet stuff, the sad stuff, and all those things came together to make a pretty good story. Now, although Smith’s books are normally at least 70% angst anyways, this one was particularly harder to get through than others just because it seemed like there was no happy ending at many points in the story. I get that with the whole plot being about moving on and starting new chapters in life, it would make sense to put the characters through the worst they could possibly endure (which happens, trust me), but this book seemed like it would be at least slightly happy when I picked it up. Unfortunately, most of the nostalgia was more negative than I had hoped, so I found myself frustrated throughout many parts of the book. On another note, the plot is a little confusing, because it’s hard at time to clarify if Aidan and Clare are truly breaking up, and at one point it starts to become so repetitive that you get a little sick of the characters being immature and bigheaded and just want to skip to the end of the book to see if they actually end up together in the end. I would recommend starting with one of Smith’s first books to give you a positive impression of her before moving on the her lesser works. I might also have a slightly sour opinion towards this book because I stayed up so late to finish it because I was dying to know what happened to Clare and Aidan.
This brings me to my favorite part of the book: the two main characters. Clare and Aidan work so well together and have been through so much you automatically start rooting for them in the beginning of the story. No, they’re not perfect. Clare’s a control freak, over-organized; Aidan is a little clingy, the family disappointment, but they work well together and that seems like the most important factor in the situation. Throughout the story, they make mistakes but redeem themselves, which is not only realistic but makes the reader like them even more (because they seem REAL). Not only do Clare and Aidan make good characters, their best friends, Stella and Scotty are hilarious and add to he humor to the story, but they also contribute wisdom about friendship moving on, growing up, and being left behind that is important for anyone to know going into life. the real reason I made it through this book is because of the characters, not because of the plot or anything else.
Overall, I would recommend any of the author’s other books, but this one doesn’t meet my standards. I consider a true good book to be one you want to go back and reread even after a few minutes, and this just wasn’t one of those books.
Rating: 3 stars
Favorite quote: “Maybe the world isn’t full of signs so much as it’s full of people trying to use whatever evidence they can find to convince themselves of what they hope to be true.”