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Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

Goodbye Days

by Jeff Zentner

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The book opens with one of the best lines I've ever read:

"Depending on who--sorry, whom--you ask, I may have killed my three best friends."

Immediately, we know that as readers, Carver is going to be interesting. We learn that Carver's best friends, Mars, Eli and Blake, died in a car crash because Mars was texting Carver back. What follows is Carver's journey through grief, anxiety and depression as he attempts to come to terms with what happened to his friend group. To add insult to injury, Carver is being investigated to see if he can be charged criminally for the deaths of his friends.

I think the topic of this book, and the subject matter dealt with as a result, is timely. Texting today seems like a basic part of life, and many people's first instincts in a variety of situations is to grab their phone. What is lacking in the everyday experience, is the real life consequences that result from not being aware whilst using said technology. Whether you're crossing the street, and are not aware of your surroundings because you are on your phone, or you're operating a vehicle and texting (WHICH IS ILLEGAL), you are putting both yourself and the lives of others at risk. Goodbye Days applies a consequence to these actions, both on Carter and on his friend who decided to text him back while driving. Carter, had to learn the hard way what happens when you're impatient and expect the instant gratification that comes with an immediate response; and Mars lost his life, along with the lives of two of his friends because he couldn't wait to pull over to read and answer Carter's text.

The only people who seem to be on his side are Blake's Grandma Betsy, Eli's girlfriend Jessmyn, and his family. Grandma Betsy asks for Carver to spend a 'Goodbye Day' with her, a day to say goodbye to Blake by doing the things they loved together. This is where I started getting very emotional. Up until this point in the book, I had been able to handle everything that was thrown at me. However, when Carver and Grandma Betsy started "bad fishing", I was a goner. After this point, I was only able to tackle a few pages a day because I'd be crying.

It got me thinking about what Goodbye Days would look like for me, and who I wish I could have had one for. My grandparents who have passed on, kids who passed away when I was growing up, my friend who died in the car wreck... I think that's why this book is so emotionally poignant and timely. You don't know when your last day with someone will be, so what would you do if you had the opportunity to live a last day out with them. The emotional maturity it would take to even act as a surrogate for a loved one is astounding.

I'm very impressed with how Jeff Zentner wrote Carter's panic attacks. As someone who has had several myself, his depictions were so vivid, I felt as though I was experiencing them myself. I also love that he used Carter's relationship with his therapist, Dr. Mendez, to help the readers cope as well. This book was so heavy, and hard to read, that Dr. Mendez felt like my therapist too. I was dealing with Carver's loss as if it were my own, and I needed his voice to break up the narrative that was weighing on me so heavily.

I would 100% recommend this book to absolutely everybody. It will be hard to read, and downright painful in some spots. However, I believe that the circumstances are important, the subject matter is important; and the way that Jeff Zentner writes about grief and the variety of impact that it has on people, is important and will help start a conversation that needs to be had. ( )
  JessysBookAdventure | May 18, 2017 |
One of the most beautifully written and heart wrenching teen novels I've read since John Green. With one little text, Carver accidentally kills his three best friends. Trying to cope and process the guilt and the sorrow is near impossible since his best friends are gone. He relies on his older sister but soon she's going back to college and soon he'll have to face everyone at school. He slowly becomes friends with the girlfriend of one of his deceased friends and together the two of them try to make sense of what has happened. Jesmyn makes music and Carver tries to return to his writing but his heart's not in it. Trying to do the mundane, every day tasks can be excruciating. While working on college applications, Carver write "One day I wrote a text message that killed my three best friends... Sure I've written a few stories here and there, but my masterwork was a two-sentence-long text message that ended three stories. I'm the only writer in the world who makes stories disappear by writing." To top it all off Carver might be facing accidental manslaughter charges because of the text. Beautiful, heart-wrenching, an absolute must read!

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in return for my honest, unbiased opinion. ( )
  ecataldi | May 8, 2017 |
I thought that this was a very moving book. As soon as I read the summary, I knew that this would be a book that I would need to read. Just imagine sending a text to a friend and then finding out that at the same time you were texting them they die in an automobile accident. Now imagine that that car was carrying not just one of your friends but all 3 of your best friends. Can you even imagine that level of grief and the guilt from knowing that your text may have been the cause of the crash? I don't think I could handle that know much less as a teenager. This was a book that I felt that I needed to read and I am glad that I did.

Carver is the teenager that sent that text. As the book opens, his friends are dead and he is at one of their funerals. His parents are out of the country and haven't been able to make it back to support him. He feels completely alone and responsible for everything that has happened. He does have a bit of support from, Jesmyn, the girlfriend of one of his friends that died in the accident.

This book not only deals with grief and overwhelming guilt but it also asks whether Carver should be held criminally responsible for his decision to text his friend. So while Carver is trying to deal with the death of 3 friends, he is worried that he may have to go to jail because of the accident. It is really not surprising when Carver has a panic attack when you think of how much he is going through. He eventually goes to therapy and I think that it is a really important part of the novel that is handled very well.

Carver and his friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake, called themselves the Sauce Crew. Carver and the family members of his friends get together to remember those that they love in what they call a Goodbye Day. It is a day to also get to know facets of that person that they didn't get to see. Each person shares different parts of themselves with different people and by coming together they can learn a little bit more about who the person was that they lost. These were my favorite parts of the book.

I loved the writing. I thought that Carver's memories of his friends really helped the reader get to know how important their friendship was and how big of a loss it really was for him. The pacing was very well done with some funny or light hearted moments showing up at just the right times. I think that this book really deals with some tough issues and does it remarkably well. This was the kind of book that I really didn't want to put down.

I would highly recommend this book to others. It was very emotional at times and I may have even shed a tear or two. I am very glad that I made the decision to read this book and look forward to reading more from this talented author soon.

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Crown Books for Young Readers via Blogging for Books. ( )
  Carolesrandomlife | May 1, 2017 |
This book was great in so many ways! I laughed, cried, got annoyed with characters... the works!

I'd definitely recommend this book!! It should be on every bookshelf, everywhere.

But that's just my opinion. ( )
  tabbyisnotacat | Apr 29, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
An innocent text has fatal consequences. 17-year-old Carver must live with the guilt that a text he sent to his three best friends played a major role in the car accident that caused their deaths. This is a heart-breaking tale of how Carter faces his grief and guilt head-on. After spending a "Goodbye Day" sharing memories with his friend Blake's Nana Betsy, Carter decides to organize a similar day with Eli's parents, and ultimately with Mars' dad at his request. Each of these days has a strong emotional impact on Carver and the families, but is an important piece in healing and perhaps eventually forgiveness. A highly recommended read not only for teens. A realistic warning about the dangers of texting and driving and the outreaching consequences of a split moment decision. ( )
  SheilaCornelisse | Apr 28, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553524062, Hardcover)

Fans of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl and Looking for Alaska will love this heartbreaking and at times humorous look into one teen’s life after the death of his best friends.
Carver Briggs never thought a simple text would cause a fatal crash, killing his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. But 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?

(retrieved from Amazon Sat, 16 Jul 2016 23:19:31 -0400)

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