Reviews

Review: Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

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?

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Song For This Book: Left Behind – Spring Awakening Cast
Why? This song fits how both Carver and the families of his friends were left behind.

4.5/5

After reading The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner, I was excited to pick up this book and see if he could do it a second time. And I definitely wasn’t disappointed. This book is as serious and heavy as the first one, with a fantastic cast of characters that will make your either love them or hate them, and an idea that it quite unlike anything else I’ve ever seen in young adult fiction.

That being said though, I didn’t quite enjoy this book as much asI had The Serpent King. It took longer to get into, and I wasn’t as engaged with the characters or the chain of events as I had been in that book. It was really good, but out of the two, not my favourite.

The Good Points of Goodbye Days:

I loved the idea of goodbye days, and the way it was presented throughout the book. The variation in how the days were spent and how each family and group of people responded to each day was really great, and never once felt repetitive or pointless. It was a really great idea.

I love how real Zentner’s characters come across. Each of them are so unique, and react in such realistic ways that you can’t help but love them. Or alternatively, hate them. I especially loved Mars’ father in this, and how perfect his reaction to the whole situation was.

This book made me so angry. And while that might be a weird thing to put in my ‘pros’ column, the fact that a book actually caused this much of a reaction in me is fantastic. I was so livid about how people seemed to blame everyone but Mars for the accident. In this day and age, everyone should know that texting and driving is dangerous, and yet he did it anyway. If you can’t tell, I’m still kind of mad about this.

I love how Zentner portrayed all of the friend and family relationships in the book. I love the variation between all of the friends, and how each family relates differently to each other. They were very well done.

The portrayal of grief in this book was great. It’s not often we get books where grief is taken to a level where it requires professional help, but that is something that people actually go through. So it was really great to see how that was developed and played out within the story.

The Downsides of Goodbye Days:

It took me a long time to get into this book and to actually care about the story and the characters. Maybe it was because we started off at such a serious point in Carver’s grief that it was hard to connect with him, I don’t know. But it took nearly half the book because I actually cared about the story or the characters.

Is this seriously how people approach a case of texting and driving causing injury? You blame everyone but the person dumb enough to have their phone in their hand while operating a vehicle? If this were ten years ago when texting was still relatively recent, I might have been less skeptical about the whole plot. But where I live, these days, if you get in an accident because of texting and driving, that’s you being dumb. Which may have contributed to why it took me so long to get into this book.

There were lots of good representations of grief in this book. But there were also a lot of moments and lines that felt overly cheesy or silly, and it kind of ruined some moments that could have been really great.

All in all, I did very much enjoy Goodbye Days. It’s a great portrayal of grief and an amazing story of family and friendship. If you like heartbreaking stories that leave you a bit warm and fuzzy at the end, great relationships, amazing character development, or contemporary stories, you’re going to love this one.

Find Goodbye Days on Book Depository

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3 thoughts on “Review: Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

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