Book Review: Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

Title: Goodbye Days

Author: Jeff Zentner 

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis:

Where are you guys? Text me back. That’s the last message Carver Briggs will ever send his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. He never thought that it would lead to their death.

Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident and even worse, a powerful judge is pressuring the district attorney to open up a criminal investigation. 
 
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” together to share their memories and say a proper farewell.
 
Soon the other families are asking for their own 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?

Review:

Goodbye Days is a painfully relevant book for today’s youth.  The way that Jeff Zentner addresses texting and driving is raw, and each page of his book is filled with pain and heartache.  I found Goodbye Days to be a book that every youth should read – as well as adults – to further understand the perils that lie with those who choose to text and drive.  There is no way that you can read this book without shedding at least one tear by the end.

“Sometimes, the only way I have of dealing with stuff is to be around things more ancient than me and my sadness; things that will forget me.”

Goodbye Days is set in Nashville, Tennessee – Zentner’s own city – and his love for Nashville shines through the pages.  Despite the morbid storyline, Zentner manages to paint Nashville beautifully for those who have never visited (such as myself) and his writing made me fall in love with the city.  Setting Goodbye Days in a city that Zentner knows well helped him bring his story to life.

“Tears streak Jessmyn’s face like an atlas of rivers.  She holds a wadded-up tissue and dabs her eyes and nose, staring straight ahead.  I don’t understand why I’m not crying.  I should be.  Maybe it’s like how it’s sometimes too cold to snow.”

Goodbye Days focuses on Carver Briggs, a young man who was texting his friends when they got in a car crash and died.  Since Carver knew that his friends were driving when he texted them, he feels responsible for their deaths.  Soon the town begins to blame Carver for the deaths of his friends as well, and the media gets involved.  Zentner’s work addresses who should be held responsible for deaths that are the outcome of texting and driving and Goodbye Days made me think about these deaths in a new way.

“I wish it would rain.  Torrents.  So hard it would cleanse me of worry and trouble; so hard it would lift the stain of death from me and carry it to the rivers and out to sea.”

Goodbye Days is a novel unlike any other.  It tackles an issue that has rarely been addressed before, and it takes teenage death and relationships seriously.  If you are a fan of John Green or Jay Asher, then Goodbye Days is a great novel to make you think!

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