April 6, 2017
Goodbye Days - Jeff Zentner
Title: Goodbye Days
Author: Jeff Zentner
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
About: Can a text message destroy your life?
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?
Goodbye Days is about a boy named Carver who is dealing with the loss of his three best friends. They died in a car accident because they were texting and driving and Carver's the one they were texting. So he's blaming himself, the families of his friends are blaming him, and the state might be pressing charges. He's been hanging with his dead friend Eli's girlfriend and developing some not-so friendly feelings. On top of all that, Blake's grandmother asks him to do a goodbye day with her - a last day to honor Blake and give her some closure. Pretty soon all the families want goodbye days of their own, and not all of them have the best intentions.
So here's the thing about Goodbye Days - I didn't love it. And I totally thought I would. It's my fault for hanging all my expectations on The Serpent King and that's not really fair. I feel like writing a book that is solely one character's exploration of grief is risky, because you're so much in that character's head. It's a lot of just talking about feelings and it's really easy to get bogged down. I don't know, this one was a little underwhelming for me. There were things I did like - Carver's therapist was a great guy. His sister, who wasn't around much, but clearly loved him and wanted to help him through his problems any way she could. The flashbacks to his friends were nice, but it felt a little, 'insert flashback here' whenever something came up in the present time.
I know people will love this book. They've been flipping out about it since it first became available to read and it's been getting starred reviews, but it just wasn't for me. We never fully connected and that's okay. I'll still be looking for Zentner's future books.