Youth and old age. Love and revenge. Grief and joy. Mystery and revelation. Kate Stollenwerck of Ponte Vedra, Florida, brings readers on an incredible journey in her first ever novel, “Hello, Goodbye.”
The story follows Hailey Rogers, a teenager from Dallas, Texas. Although 15-year-old Hailey doesn't particularly want to spend the summer with her grandma Gigi, it's the only way to stop her parents from bothering her about SAT prep, finding a job or college plans.
Although doubtful at first, Hailey immediately develops a close relationship with Gigi, who exposes her to the Beatles, “The Great Gatsby” and driving a vintage convertible called “Betty.” Two popular football players from Hailey's school, Blake and DeMarcus, whom she meets while visiting Gigi, wind up becoming her unexpected friends.
Her grandmother also imparts to her some of the convoluted family history. After finding hints in an ancient letter written by her great-grandfather, Hailey sets off on a road trip to a desolate Texas town to unravel the family mystery.
The coming-of-age story is fitting for all ages and is sure to keep readers captivated and engaged. The author did a wonderful job of combining several storylines, making it easy to fall in love with each individual character. Hailey is unique, independent and spunky. Her loving relationship with her eccentric, charming grandmother carries the story along and truly makes the novel special.
The story captivated me and gave me the sensation that I was physically in the room with Hailey and her grandmother. I felt as though I was sitting on Gigi's couch, hearing the tales of her history. Fans of the Beatles will enjoy how seamlessly the music from the band is incorporated into the narrative, and Stollenwerck fittingly included historical elements that play a significant role in the story.
Ultimately, “Hello, Goodbye” was a beautifully written debut that demonstrates the sweet, unmatchable relationship between a grandmother and her granddaughter. Stollenwerck tastefully incorporated themes of family, romance and, above all, love. As written in the novel, “All you need is love. Love is all you need. Just like Gigi said.”
Banks Vadeboncoeur is a sophomore at Ponte Vedra High School. She loves to write and hopes to have a future career in journalism.
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