Monday, May 15, 2017

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

  • THE BOOK
    • Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner
    • Published March 7, 2017
    • Other work by author is The Serpent King

  • THE PREMISE
    • A few weeks before the start of senior year Carver's three best friends die in a car accident. The driver was responding to Carver's text message at the time.
      • Carver feels intense grief as well as guilt and some of the families blame him for the loss of their sons leading to a possible criminal complaint against him.
    • One of the boys, raised by his grandma, doesn't blame Carver but wants to have a "goodbye day" doing all the things she loved doing with her grandson one last time but with Carver in his place.
      • Then the other families, even the ones who blame him, want to have goodbye days too.
    • Meanwhile Carver's only friend is Jesmyn, the recent girlfriend of one of the boys. He is also supported by his sister and his therapist.
    • They all attend a high school for the arts in Nashville. Carver is the writer and the other boys were all artistic too: one is an artist, one a musician and the other an aspiring comic. Jesmyn is a pianist aspiring to Julliard.
    • The book is told from Carver's point of view and moves about in time as he remembers meeting each of his friends and how they became a strong circle of four.

  • MY THOUGHTS
    • The entire book is a meditation on grief and survivor's guilt and it almost has to end on a hopeful note, right?
      • The plot is outlined on the dust-jacket so it seems likely to include moments of intense grief with moments of hopefulness. 
      • I was glad that Carver got some real help quickly and his development of panic attacks seemed realistic.
      • Plus it has some real suspense based on the outcome of the criminal investigation into Carver's possible culpability.
    • I read this book with a lump in my throat almost the entire time. Imagine you are in high school and have a group of friends. Imagine losing ALL of them in a car accident just before the last year. Brutal.
      • My family moved across the country between my junior and senior years of high school so I understand a modicum of grief related to losing my entire group of friends in one fell swoop.
    • I liked that we get to know the boys who died even if it's only in flashbacks and through their families.
    • This isn't probably a book for everyone but I really loved it.
    • Recommended for readers of young adult novels. I think I will try to read the author's first book too.
    • ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ (first 5-star review of the year!)

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