Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Books I've Loved: Goodbye Days

This is the second book by Jeff Zentner I've read in just a few weeks and it didn't disappoint.  It's about grief and guilt and shows how one boy works through his own by having a series of 'goodbye days' with the families of the three best friends he lost in a horrific accident.

An accident he may have unwittingly caused by sending a text that distracted the driver.

Grieving and dealing with the possibility of being prosecuted for a crime, Carver isn't doing well.  He's having panic attacks, his dead friend's sister won't even speak to him anymore and on top of it all, he's starting to have feelings for his dead friend's girlfriend.

He doesn't think he can handle spending a full day with Blake's grieving grandmother, but eventually, with th help of his therapist, manages to get to a place where he recognizes it might be therapeutic.

The first of the goodbye days, with his friend Blake's grandmother,  is such a success, Carver doesn't hesitate to agree to a second, with the family of his friend Eli.

But families are all different, and how they respond to tragedy is also different.  Eli's goodbye day does not end up being anything like as therapeutic as Blake's. And Mars's?  Well, considering Mars's father is the judge hellbent on prosecuting Carver for causing the crash, you can only imagine.

I really enjoyed this book.  Carver occasionally sounds older than the seventeen he's supposed to be, but given he's a writer, goes to an exclusive arts school, and has been forced to deal with something so horrible, it doesn't feel entirely out of place.

I liked the relationship between the friends and the goofy things they did together.  I liked that Carver had a close, open relationship with his sister, but was quite closed off from their parents.  And I liked how real the grief felt.  This isn't pretty, occasional tear in class kind of grief.  It's the kind that rips you apart from the inside, the kind that steamrollers you at odd times, usually when you least expect it.

Carver's choices and ways to cope with this also feel real.  So do the moments when he fails at dealing with it.

But don't just listen to me.  Here's the blurb:

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?


  1. Wait, prosecuting him for sending a text? I get how he would blame himself and even the families, but how could he be legally responsible for just sending a text?

  2. This does sound good. Definitely going on my TBR list.