Publication Date: September 1, 2015
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 246 (ARC)
Source: BEA 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.
I should preface this review by saying I really love Jennifer E. Smith. If I want a cheesy, feel-good contemporary, I know she's my gal. But gosh, was I disappointed in this book. While it echoes the writings of her past novels, it is not the story I expected...or wanted, for that matter.
My biggest issue with this book is the main character: Clare. Gosh, I hated her. It's rare that I say I hate main characters, but I did not like this girl one bit. It's funny because I should love her. Her and I are a lot alike: practical, organized, obsessive about our future and school, and even slightly pessimistic when upset. But she is a super pessimist. She is so controlling of her life that she is willing to ruin something great because she feels it is the practical thing to do. Practicality is important, but so is your heart and emotions, and it was obvious reading this book that she doesn't really know what she is doing. She has this boy, this wonderful boy full of optimism that loves her so much that he's willing to put up with her negativity and thoughts of breaking up by continuously countering with his own insistence that they are too good together to break up. Her insistence to break up just makes her seem so ungrateful! Agh! I could rant about this.
This book is her journey leading up to the day she leaves for college, saying all her good-byes and deciding whether she needs to break up with her boyfriend, Aidan. I went through this myself. Granted, I was not leaving a boyfriend behind and I walked through my town with a huge grin on my face because I was beyond excited to get out, but I went through this myself. And the entire journey and re-living of memories bit was marred by her negativity and, if I am being honest, unnecessary stupidity. But since this entire book takes place over that single night, it's almost as if Clare just marred the entire novel with her bad attitude that steadily got worse. I was disliking her by page 30! That never happens to me.
The journey itself was cute. She is surrounded by a great group of people that are adorable and make her life wonderful, but she is so dang selfish that she doesn't always appreciate them or realize things about them at the proper time. And her excuses about being "realistic" even caused her to not tell her boyfriend that she loves him despite being together for years. Realistic my behind, you're just a little too self-absorbed and selfish. It's like Smith used Clare's realism and practicality as an excuse for everything when that just doesn't fly in my mind.
I do have to say that the prologue was very redeeming for me. It sparked a little hope in my heart and put a huge smile on my face. I love Aidan as a character. He is definite book boyfriend material and can make any girl happy. And sure, I have an extremely strong dislike for Clare, but if she is what makes him happy than I will ship them. Since the uplifting prologue gave me a little hope, I am left the smallest bit satisfied.
In the end, this was not a book for me. While it has all the components of a quick read that I would typically enjoy, my reading experience was less than stellar because the main character frustrated me so immensely. She is such a strong personality that she alone makes this is a polarizing read. I know people who have loved it and people who have not, and I am very curious to see where other readers fall on this spectrum. I'll still read anything Jennifer E. Smith writes, I just may be slightly more apprehensive than usual. It just really was not a book meant for me.
FTC Disclaimer: I received no compensation of any kind in exchange for my honest review.