Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner
Once upon a time Carver Briggs was an average but happy teenager. But that was before. Before the panic attacks started. Before he had a lawyer. Before his three best friends – Mars, Eli, and Blake – tragically died in a car accident.
A cart accident that Carver caused.
As the only surviving member of sauce crew, Carver isn’t only wracked with grief, but also with guilt. After all, he has a lot to feel guilty about. It was the text message that he sent to Mars. Mars, who he knew would respond quickly. Mars who he knew was driving.
Carver holds himself responsible. So much so that, even though he fears it, feels that he deserves to go to prison. With the help of a new friend, a concern and compassionate therapise, a fast-talking lawyer, and several goodbye days Carver sees his role in their death. But more than, he sees his roles in their lives.
Is that enough to bring happiness? To stop the panic attacks? To keep him from becoming a convicted murderer?
Goodbye Days, written by author Jeff Zentner, is a contemporary book that, not only pulls at every heart string, but also urges readers to see that for every action, there is a reaction. And sometimes that’s reactions can be deadly.
Zentner’s writing isn’t only strong, it is downright beautifully. I would go as far as to say it’s lyrical even. More than that it’s emotionally raw, and starkly real. The start of each chapter will leave fresh tears falling.
Better than the writing are Zentner’s characters. Main character Carver is flawed, and when readers first meet him, he’s broken. But the pain and grief he experiences is real. It’s that pain and that grief that make him relatable. It is those things that make him the kind of character that readers will genuinely want to see them come out on top.
But Carver isn’t the only great character. Zenter’s characters are so great, all of them play leading roles. I especially loved Carver’s older sister, Georgia. She was hard not to like. Georgia is endearing, she’s brutally honest, and she her love for her brother is boundless. Georgia is the definition of family.
What is truly amazing was how Carver’s three best friends were handled. Even though Mars, Eli, and Blake died (the book opens with Carver at a funeral), readers will get to know them – not just through Carver’s memories and perspective, but because Zentner has made sure to give them their own voices.
I’m not going to lie to you all dear readers, I absolutely LOVED Goodbye Days. But it was super sad. I couldn’t help but shed a tear or two … almost every single chapter. Reading this book made me emotional – I was happy and sad, angry even. And I appreciated that. But more than that though, the reason why it made me so emotional was because it made me thing about my own experiences with grief. And sometimes that was hard to experience, especially since I read purely to escape.
I seriously can go on and on about Goodbye Days. I can’t say enough about it, but I will say this last thing: go and read it. Experience it for yourself. You will not be disappointed.
(Cover image from Goodreads)