Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner
Release: March 7, 2017
Publisher: Crown Books
What if you could spend one last day with someone you lost?
One day Carver Briggs had it all—three best friends, a supportive family, and a reputation as a talented writer at his high school, Nashville Academy for the Arts.
The next day he lost it all when he sent a simple text to his friend Mars, right before Mars, Eli, and Blake were killed in a car crash.
Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident, and he’s not the only one. Eli’s twin sister is trying to freeze him out of school with her death-ray stare. And Mars’s father, a powerful judge, is pressuring the district attorney to open a criminal investigation into Carver’s actions.
Luckily, Carver has some unexpected allies: Eli’s girlfriend, the only person to stand by him at school; Dr. Mendez, his new therapist; and Blake’s grandmother, who asks Carver to spend a Goodbye Day with her to share their memories and say a proper goodbye to his friend.
Soon the other families are asking for a Goodbye Day with Carver, but he’s unsure of their motives. Will they all be able to make peace with their losses, or will these Goodbye Days bring Carver one step closer to a complete breakdown or—even worse—prison?
In Goodbye Days, we meet Carver Briggs at the last funeral for his three friends who died in a car accident. A texting accident, one everyone believes Carver caused as the driver’s phone was found with a half-composed text. Carver’s dealing with guilt of knowing he was the cause of the accident. Carver is also dealing with blame of not only himself but his three friends families. But one friend’s grandmother doesn’t hold him responsible, in fact, she wants to spend a Goodbye Day with him to help put her grandson to rest. Soon the other families ask him to do it, some to make him feel guilty, some to just finally meet their sons. Meanwhile, one father, a judge, wants to seek criminal prosecution against Carver.
This story opened something in me. Goodbye Days took my heart and crushed it, ripping me open, and just leaving me empty. This is a story I need to rebuild from.
Told in the present with a few memories, we see Carver after his friends’ deaths. He doesn’t want to heal, he only wants to blame himself.
Jeff Zentner wrote something so raw and real, I couldn’t put it down. I just wanted to hug Carver, to help him through this difficult time, and to punch some characters in the face – but that isn’t a new thing for me.
The writing was real and filled with so much emotion. I haven’t been a teenager for a while but these were like conversations I would hear in my old high school. The characters were realistic, the issues were believable – aside from the accident – and the tears started flowing.
I loved the diversity of the characters, the families, the discoveries. I loved learning new things about the characters as the families learned about them or as Carver learned about them. Him hearing stories of his friends were precious moments and written so beautifully.
I hadn’t had a chance to read Jeff Zentner’s work before but am happy I had this to start with, it makes me eager for his earlier work and anything he puts out in the future. Zentner has this understanding in his writing that really hits home.
What I loved:
- The characters were so believable and easily relatable. I felt like I’d met them before, like I’d known them forever. I wanted to cry with them, I wanted to grieve with them, I just wanted to be there for them as they mourned their losses.
- The diversity of characters. It wasn’t a cookie-cutter cast of characters. There were different backgrounds, different characteristics, different home lives. It was great to see different lives being displayed.
- The writing was like taking a walk through my teenage years. I saw myself at seventeen having these same conversations.
What I didn’t like:
- Uh…a couple characters, but I think I’m not supposed to like them.
I strongly recommend this book. Just bring tissues.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for review.