Book Review: Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

Posted June 9, 2017 by shooting in Book Review / 43 Comments

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner 

Review by Lauren

source: copy from BloggingForBooks; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryOne 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?

Review: This book has a very intriguing question at the heart of it: if someone gets in a car accident due to texting, who’s to blame? The person who texted – knowing they were driving – or the driver who tried to text back, while driving? Well, the main character in Goodbye Days, Carver, is the first half of that question. He texted one of his three best friends – knowing they were driving – and they got into a car accident, killing all three of the young men. Now Carver is afraid that charges will be pressed against him and he’ll end up in jail. He’s got a great lawyer, and he’s finally seeing a psychiatrist, but the guilt eats away at Carver day after day.

While this sounds like a heartbreaking book – and it can be – it’s also full of humor and hope. There are flashbacks to Carver meeting his three friends, as well as ordinary moments of them just having fun. The relationship between all three boys felt very realistic and I loved getting a glimpse of the life they all had BEFORE.

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I have yet to read The Serpent King by this author, but it’s one I do want to get to soon. I highly recommend reading Goodbye Days whether you read the author’s debut or not. They aren’t connected, so no need to worry about that. I found this book to be upsetting and wonderful, often all at the same time. I wanted to yell at some of the adults in Carver’s life for not understanding that he is a child too. I thought the idea of doing a Goodbye Day with the various parents/adults of the boys lost – Blake, Eli, Mars-  was a really brilliant idea. Some were much harder for Carver than others, but he starts with saying goodbye to Blake with Blake’s grandma, who loves Carver and would never blame him. This goodbye day is obviously my favorite. I think all of them helped Carver heal a little bit though, even if it opened up some of the wounds at the same time.

Very good; I recommend!

43 responses to “Book Review: Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

  1. This sounds like a brilliant book. Such a good topic to cover too. I often get text’s while I’m driving… even from others who know I’m driving, but I don’t read them at the time. I think it’s a good topic to cover and an important one for raising awareness (I hope) of responsibility for one’s own actions.

  2. OOOhhh this sounds like one of those thinkers – really though, who is to blame? You did pick up the phone to look at the text? I’m curious though how he put humour into it. I like a good book that can spin humour into books like these. Great review friend! MAkes me want to pick this book up!

  3. This sounds like a great read, such an interesting question about who is to blame. I think I might have to check this one out! It almost reminds me of something Jodi Picoult would write.

  4. Adding this one to the list!! Thank you for sharing–this is something I think about often, now that I have a car and like to drive around town. Texting and driving really is so dangerous but it’s hard to say definitively who is to blame if this leads to an accident.

    Hope you have a great week!!

  5. Mia

    Oooh, this sounds intriguing. It makes me sad that the other boys’ families would blame him, but I can see how they’d take it from their perspective. I definitely want to check this out! 🙂

  6. RO

    What a deep topic. I’ve never heard of anyone blaming the actual person who texts before, and that puts a different spin on things. I definitely need to read this to find out more. Hugs…and hope your evening is going great.

  7. I recently heard about this book and it sounds really good. I listened to The Serpent King on audio last year and had a hard time getting into it, but I think it was because I should have read it instead of listened to it. I have a hard time with audio books sometimes. Anyway, this sounds really good!

  8. This sounds like it will be an emotional read even with the humor. I’ve never heard of it before which I can’t believe. The Goodbye Day idea sounds like something I would get emotional about. I love that his friend’s grandmother suggests it. I honestly wouldn’t think to blame him but I would feel guilty if I texted them.

  9. I agree that the topic was really compelling and it actually made me think a lot. At first, I was horrified that anyone could even imagine assigning blame to Carver, but once you found out a few more of the details, I started to see the shades of gray—which isn’t to say that I wanted Carver punished in any way (he punished himself PLENTY, and no good would come of hurting him further), but it did make me think about the fragility of life and how a bad decision can send you spiraling.

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  10. Thanks for the review! I went to a lit festival today and may have come home with 20 books… I still have a running to read list though and I think I’ll add this!

  11. Wow. this sounds so incredibly poignant Lauren and a really emotional read. Even with one boy texting, they chose to read the text message while driving when they could have pulled over when safe and checked it. I can imagine the guilt he must be feeling though. Really looking forward to grabbing a copy. Wonderful review Lauren, so glad you enjoyed it <3 <3

  12. I haven’t read this one yet but it’s on my TBR. It sounds like a powerful read and a very relevant one, considering how much people are on their phones while they drive. I’m glad to hear it’s uplifting even though it’s also heartbreaking.

  13. Jen

    I am glad you liked this one. I think it is an important topic to be discussing. Those cell phones are hard for teens to put down! Thanks for sharing your review.

  14. I am so interested in reading this one. I read (or rather, listened to) The Serpent King earlier this year and was really impressed with Zentner’s writing and the way he managed to convey so much emotion. Sounds like he did the same with Goodbye Days. Great review, Lauren!

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