Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentmer Review

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“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?”

   Goodbye Days is, honestly, one of the best books I have read all year. It tackles a relevant and tough subject with sincerity and the brutal truth without ever sacrificing its story and characters for the sake of an emotional moment (although there are some really nice ones).

   Carver is an extremely vulnerable and sympathetic protagonist. Zentmer fantastically paints the inner struggle and guilt he feels for unintentionally causing his friend’s deaths. It is truly gut-wrenching to see the world through Carver’s eyes and how the people treat him. Zentmer is not afraid to put Carver through some tough, yet understandable situations. While hard to swallow, the behavior each person displays to Carver especially some of the parent’s is absolutely understandable except for Mars’ dad ( it was Mars’ choice to read it). It is difficult to imagine what goes through a parent’s mind when they hear their child has died and I hope I never have to. Jesmyn provides a nice companion to Carver as they tackle the loss together. Georgia provided some happiness and joy to a book filled with emotional moments. Who doesn’t want a sibling like her? 

   The plot moved in a kind of predictable way, however the characters more than made up for it. The emotional moments in the book feel so genuine and sincere, it never felt forced for the sake of having an emotional moment. Zentmer handles the tough subject with respect, but is never afraid to show the repercussions of the accident. At heart, the book is not only a book of grief and acceptance, but friendship. Jesmyn and Carver’s friendship was a joy to read and sweet to see them support one another through this tough time. 

   Goodbye Days was a fantastic and moving book that tackles its subject with respect and sincerity. The characters elevate this book from other young adult novels and their experiences and interaction with one another was beautifully done. Just read this book.

Rating: Must Buy

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