Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner (5 out of 5)
This was not an easy read..meaning it made me sad the whole time I was reading it. I was also sick in bed with the flu and feeling pretty sad for myself anyhow, so why not? So, if you think this is a happy book, go buy a different book. But don’t not buy this one, only because it isn’t out yet. It’s out March 7. Don’t let that disclaimer kill your expectations. It is a fantastically written, thought provoking book. It also has roots in everyday reality. How many times do you hear on the news about someone who is texting while driving, and terrible consequences follow? All the time. Despite it being a law in many states, I have been in cars with people driving who feel the need to have their phone with them and texting, while driving. Several others have had car wrecks because of texting. So, yes, an issue that exists in real life. Crafting a book around that and addressing it in the manner of young adult fiction? I give Jeff Zentner major props for that. I also give him major props for Carver, a wonderfully realistic teen protagonist who clearly feels the effects of his actions. More teens need to read this; maybe some will get the message behind the narrative.
Carver sends a single text to his three best friends. Directly after that, he finds out all of them perished in a car crash. Carver is horrified and silently blames himself. Even worse is when his dead friend’s grandma wants to do a day of remembrance type deal with Carver joining in. (Yes, Goodbye Days. That’s where the title comes from). Can Carver go through with this? Will it assuage his guilt at all? Will it make him confess his sins to the families of his deceased pals? What sort of message is left behind for Carver to work through? Carver’s flashbacks show is how truly wonderful those friends were, and it is even harder for the reader to slough through that knowing what happens, but you need to stick with this book until the end. Carver is a wonderfully written young man who has made a terrible mistake and paid the ultimate price for it. This book is astonishing in how it grabs you and grips you, while making you grieve with this panic-stricken young man. I cannot say how much I loved this book. As sad as it will make you, it is a beautiful book about loneliness and grief and the repercussions of consequences from seemingly inconspicuous actions. No action goes without a reaction. And no one should go without giving this book a read. It is out on March 7, 2017 on Crown Books. Put it on your TBR lists!