Jeff Zentner you have absolutely done it again. You have ripped my heart out then put it back together, made me tear up then laugh hysterically, and you did this with every turn of the page. What an emotional roller coaster and let me just say I think I’m going to try my hand at squirrel rodeo. Everyone mark your calendars for March 7th because Goodbye Days is sure to be a 2017 must read!
Carver Briggs never thought a simple text would cause a fatal crash, killing his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident and even worse, there could be a criminal investigation into the deaths.
Then Blake’s grandmother asks Carver to remember her grandson with a ‘goodbye day’ together. Carver has his misgivings, but he starts to help the families of his lost friends grieve with their own memorial days, along with Eli’s bereaved girlfriend Jesmyn. But not everyone is willing to forgive. Carver’s own despair and guilt threatens to pull him under into panic and anxiety as he faces punishment for his terrible mistake. Can the goodbye days really help?
I was lucky enough to have been given an ARC of this book for review and I don’t even know where to start. It seems every time I read a book by Jeff Zentner I am at a loss for words. Jeff became an instant favorite author of mine after reading the Serpent King, which is a book I hold close to my heart, but he only solidified his place as a favorite author after Goodbye Days. I am emotionally exhausted after reading this book, there were so many times I wanted to ball my eyes out but a paragraph later I was laughing so hard that I didn’t have the chance to cry. This book had a very strong message about the dangers of texting and driving, but the thing was that wasn’t what this book was necessarily about, it wasn’t another message to teens that they see every day, but it was a story about death, loss, accountability, guilt, love, happiness, and friendship, which I believe will stick in peoples minds much longer than the every day messages we see. Like the Serpent King before this, Jeff Zentner wrote a book about life and all the ugly, horrible, scary, happy, amazing things that come along with it. And he does so in such a real way that I can’t help but look at this book as a work of non-fiction rather than fiction.
One thing I adore about Jeff’s writing is his analogies. He puts his characters feelings into analogies that you can’t help but totally understand and thus feel yourself. For example when Carver has a panic attack and he explains it as falling through ice, and watching something heavy and fragile slide off a shelf, etc, I knew in those moments exactly how Carver was feeling and it made me that much more connected to his story and his character. Death is such a hard part of life to grasp and an even harder thing to experience and work through. Jeff wrote about this story of dealing with death and loss in a way that just seemed so honest and raw. After reading this book I went up to my fiance and just hugged him because life is so short and I honestly cant imagine experiencing everything Carver felt. Every part of his journey was what you would expect of someone in his situation, there isn’t a part of it that I don’t believe. What makes me so sad about this book is that I felt the love Carver had for his friends, I loved Sauce Crew too, and I wanted more than anything to just read about all of them together and their antics because their friendship was beautiful. Jeff I implore you to please write a book strictly on these characters all hanging out and living the life (pre-death, no sadness) because my gosh they all had me laughing so much! That’s another thing I love about Jeff’s writing, is how personally attached he makes you to his characters, I always end his books feeling like I truly knew the characters.
Jeff thank you so much for the chance to read this book before it comes out, I can not wait to go pick it up on release day and add it to my shelf, my shelf that is sure to become a strictly Jeff Zentner shelf. I can’t wait to reread this heartbreaking but beautiful story and visit Carver again and cry and laugh along with him. Jeff is a young adult author but I truly think that his books are a must read for everyone, there is a maturity in his writing that makes his books good for teens and adults alike. Do yourself a favor and pick this book up and all of his books that he is sure to write in the future!
“For the most part, you don’t hold the people you love in your heart because they rescued you from drowning or pulled you from a burning house. Mostly you hold them in your heart because they save you, in a million quiet and perfect ways, from being alone.”