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Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

Goodbye Days

by Jeff Zentner

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Don't text and drive-a simple message woven into a complex and heart wrenching plot. ( )
  kimpiddington | Jun 9, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I enjoyed this book. I can realise how having sent a text to your friends just before they die in a car accident would bring upon survivor's guilt. I didn't really think that you could possibly go to prison or be sued for that, I thought it wasn't plausible but then I just realised that this happens in the US - so perhaps that is a possible consequence? I liked the concept of having a day with each of the grieving families, but I really though that the protagonist should have had such a day with his own parents. Both his sister and his therapist frequently tell him that he should be opening up to his parents more. He never does and he never really explains why he doesn't want to. Otherwise a pretty good read. ( )
  KarenAJeff | Jun 1, 2017 |
“For the most part, you don’t hold the people you love in your heart because they rescued you from drowning or pulled you from a burning house. Mostly you hold them in your heart because they save you, in a million quiet and perfect ways, from being alone.”

Unfortunately the blurb was misleading, as a lot of YA blurbs are tending to do lately. I was expecting (as the blurb explains) a teenage boy working through the shock of the death of his friends and his involvement via sending a text message. What it ended up being instead was a teenage boy wondering if it was too early to start dating his dead best friend’s girlfriend just a week or two after the funeral. Really YA authors? Again with adding completely unnecessary romanic relationships? *sigh*

The plot for the book (if you can get over the mumbo jumbo romance) was pretty good. Carver sent a text to his friends, knowing they were driving, and was filled with guilt over their deaths; not to mention some of their family also blamed him and their deaths were being investigated (which also seemed a bit fishy to me, since he wasn’t even in the car, but I just chalked that up to ‘fiction’ and moved along).

Through the story the reader is given glimpses of the boys’ past; when they first met, lazy days in the park, first days of school, etc. to give them a bigger presence and more emotional ties to Carver. Blake is really the only character that stood out and made an impact, but that might just be because his character is so demanding of attention and it seemed like he would have been the ‘leader’ of the group.

The story really starts when Blake’s grandma (possibly my FAVORITE character in the book) asks Carver for a goodbye day with him so she could learn the side of Blake that only his friends knew, and in turn Carver could learn the side of Blake that his family knew. Once the other families were told of this they also started wanting their “Goodbye Days”, each in completely different ways then the first.

It was leaning toward a good story, then again there are also points in the book where the boys crack jokes about suicide and gays. I’m not easily offended, but this is not okay. Even if the author is trying to be accurate about teenage boys, adding these kinds of jokes to books just makes it even more of a social norm.

Overall, “Goodbye Days” wasn’t the story I was hoping for. It could have been a great read if it stuck to its original plot and didn’t try to venture out and add unnecessary romance that kind of just made me cringe reading it. ( )
  ReadingBifrost | May 25, 2017 |
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 |
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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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