Goodbye Days

Goodbye Days

by Jeff Zentner


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“Gorgeous, heartbreaking, and ultimately life-affirming.” Nicola Yoon, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Everything, Everything.

Perfect for fans of Turtles All the Way Down,Thirteen Reasons Why, and Zentner's own The Serpent King, one of the most highly acclaimed YA novels of 2016, Goodbye Days asks what you would do if you could spend one last day with someone you lost.

Where are you guys? Text me back. That's the last message Carver Briggs will ever send his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. He never thought that it would lead to their death.

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?

"Jeff Zentner, you perfectly fill the John-Green-sized hole in our heart." Justine Magazine

“Evocative, heartbreaking, and beautifully written." 

"Masterful." —

“Hold on to your heart: this book will wreck you, fix you, and most definitely change you.” —Becky Albertalli, Morris Award-winning author of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553524062
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 03/07/2017
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 264,350
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.70(d)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

Jeff Zentner is the acclaimed author of The Serpent King. In addition to writing, he is also a singer-songwriter and guitarist who has recorded with Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, and Debbie Harry. Goodbye Days is his love letter to the city of Nashville and the talented people who populate it. He lives in Nashville with his wife and son. You can follow him on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter at @jeffzentner.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

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

If you ask Blake Lloyd’s grandma, Nana Betsy, I think she’d say no. That’s because when she first saw me earlier today, she grabbed me in a huge, tearful hug and whispered in my ear: “You are not responsible for this, Carver Briggs. God knows it and so do I.” And Nana Betsy tends to say what she thinks. So there’s that.

If you ask Eli Bauer’s parents, Dr. Pierce Bauer and Dr. Melissa Rubin-­Bauer, I expect they’d say maybe. When I saw them today, they each looked me in the eyes and shook my hand. In their faces, I saw more bereavement than anger. I sensed their desolation in the weakness of their handshakes. And I’m guessing part of their fatigue was over whether to hold me accountable in some way for their loss. So they go down as a maybe. Their daughter, Adair? Eli’s twin? We used to be friends. Not like Eli and I were, but friends. I’d say she’s a “definitely” from the way she glowers at me as if she wishes I’d been in the car too. She was doing just that a few minutes ago, while talking with some of our classmates attending the funeral.

Then there’s Judge Frederick Douglass Edwards and his ex-­wife, Cynthia Edwards. If you ask them if I killed their son, Thurgood Marshall “Mars” Edwards, I expect you’d hear a firm “probably.” When I saw Judge Edwards today, he towered over me, immaculately dressed as always. Neither of us spoke for a while. The air between us felt hard and rough as stone. “It’s good to see you, sir,” I said finally, and extended my sweating hand.

“None of this is good,” he said in his kingly voice, jaw muscles clenching, looking above me. Beyond me. As though he thought if he could persuade himself of my insignificance, he could persuade himself that I had nothing to do with his son’s death. He shook my hand like it was both his duty and his only way of hurting me.

Then there’s me. I would tell you that I definitely killed my three best friends.

Not on purpose. I’m pretty sure no one thinks I did it on purpose; that I slipped under their car in the dead of night and severed the brake lines. No, here’s the cruel irony for the writer I am: I wrote them out of existence. Where are you guys? Text me back. Not a particularly good or creative text message. But they found Mars’s phone (Mars was driving) with a half-­composed text responding to me, just as I requested. It looks like that was what he was working on when he slammed into the rear of a stopped semi on the highway at almost seventy miles per hour. The car went under the trailer, shearing off the top.

Am I certain that it was my text message that set into motion the chain of events that culminated in my friends’ deaths? No. But I’m sure enough.

I’m numb. Blank. Not yet in the throes of the blazing, ringing pain I’m certain waits for me in the unrolling days ahead. It’s like once when I was chopping onions to help my mom in the kitchen. The knife slipped and I sliced open my hand. There was this pause in my brain as if my body needed to figure out it had been cut. I knew two things right then: (1) I felt only a quick strike and a dull throbbing. But the pain was coming. Oh, was it coming. And (2) I knew that in a second or two, I was about to start raining blood all over my mom’s favorite bamboo cutting board (yes, people can form deep emotional attachments to cutting boards; no, I don’t get it so don’t ask).

So I sit at Blake Lloyd’s funeral and wait for the pain. I wait to start bleeding all over everything.

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Goodbye Days 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
SkerriSheri More than 1 year ago
The realistic fiction book Goodbye Days (2018) by Morris Award winning author of The Serpent King, Jeff Zentner, includes a sorrowful mysterious tale with many hilarious twists and turns, as well as incredible diction throughout the book and symbolizes, during a grieving process, it becomes harder to be alone. Both young adults and adults will be worried yet supportive of the seventeen year-old protagonist Carver Briggs, as he faces the loss of his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake, who die in a car crash while responding to a text Carver sent. When I read this book, I imagined losing my best friends and felt the terror of this tragic event. Zentner introduces an interesting concept of overcoming death with the help of loved ones, and during a grieving process, it becomes harder to be alone. The text supports this by stating, “I awake with a wild gasp, my pulse galloping. My sheets are drenched in sweat, my face tight with the salt of dream tears… I guess guilt doesn’t sleep. It only eats” (45). This quote helps me truly understand losing loved ones from this terrifying event. The part “I guess guilt doesn’t sleep. It only eats,” hit me hard, guilt exists totally different than other feelings and reveals a true nightmare. The author’s tone and description of the chilling moment gives the reader a better understanding of grieving death by making the readers feel they are experiencing the pain themself. The novel provides detailed text, which flows smoothly, interesting character with thoughtful development, and a relatively emotional plot. Each character possesses a unique trait and makes readers curious about how the characters will react to one another. For example, Mars, the artist, Eli, the guitarist, Blake, the comedian, and Carver, the writer, are people who would not normally be seen together with all of their differences, but they remain each other's best friends. I relate to this with my own best friends, we own our differences, yet we stick together as friends. While reading the text, the readers feel they are there in Nashville right beside Carver. One moment, I was close to tears and in the next moment laughing at the humorous prose. The feeling and structure of the mysterious plot makes the reader want to continue reading with reassurance of Caver’s safety. Goodbye Days deserves a strong four out of five stars for the fantastic character development, all of the emotions, and the relatable plot. In my opinion, the storyline dragged on little, so if it was shortened then the book would be five stars. Fans of the heartbreaking adventures and thrilling yet humorous characters in The Fault in Our Stars will love this emotionally developed novel.
ahyperboliclife More than 1 year ago
“Pareidola … It’s when your mind sees a pattern you recognize where there isn’t one. Like seeing a face in the moon. Or shapes in clouds. What a beautiful word. For something that isn’t always beautiful.” What a beautiful story of loss, grief, and healing. Carver Briggs life changes after he sent simple text to his three best friends right before all three die in a car accident. Now facing prosecution for their deaths, and blame from his friends families, Carver begins healing through new friends, therapy, and Goodbye Days - celebrating his friends memories with their loved ones. Goodbye Days showcases the many forms of grief and the long and hard process of healing after your world changes in an instant. Things I Liked I loved seeing grief in it’s many forms. This story does suc ha great job of exploring the pain, anger, resentment, hopeless, and many other facets of grief and loss. I love that not only do we get to see such a wide range of emotions from different characters, but Carver’s emotional journey is shown as a complex process. I really feel like I get to know Blake, Eli, and Mars, not only through their goodbye days, but in their friendship with Carver. They were each such vibrant personalities and I loved learning more about them through their loved ones. This book was FILLED with supportive families. Each family, while dealing with immense grief, clearly shows their love and care for their children. I loved seeing Carver’s family being so supportive of his healing process, and encourage therapy. And we get a very positive portrayal of therapy. Also, Nana Betsy, Blake’s grandmother, was the absolute greatest. The flow of the story was just really beautiful. There’s a natural rhythm that makes the story really easy to read, even when some chapters are on the long side - they never feel flat. Things I Didn’t Like How Blake’s goodbye day was phrased was weird, even though what was happening was meaningful and beautiful. Just the way they were talking about it was making it weird, when what was happening was completely normal. I honestly could have done without the romantic feeling in the story. I understand the connection after loss and think it was written well, but I just really didn’t want it. This was such an emotional story - which I LOVE. And it was so easy to become completely invested in the characters. This story is so raw and honest - it grips your heart. Goodbye Days is a standout story of loss, healing, and what happend in between.
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
This was an emotional read, I felt the guilt that Carver carried with him and had it been me, heck yeah, I would have felt like Carter, I was guilty! As the novel slowly unraveled, I started to see other pieces start to show themselves and I saw another side of this story and I started to wonder, was Carter really guilty? Slamming into a truck, traveling over 70 mph, Mars tried to respond to Carver’s text but he never finished it. Mars and two best buddies were killed, was Carver responsible for their deaths? It’s clear the Carver knew that Mars would be the fastest one to respond to his text and it’s clear that Carver knew that Mars would be the one driving the car but did he know his three best friends would be dead because of that text? There are days that Carver can hardly keep his head on his shoulders, he is emotionally drained as he tries to continue living his own life while the ramifications of what that text had on the world around him is clearly visible. His three best friends are no longer with him, school is no longer the same, his life has been changed dramatically, these boy’s parent’s lives have been changed extremely and Carver wonders how he can ever move on. There are individuals in his life that push him forward, pull him under, confuse the hell out of him, and fill his head with notions. They are coming from all over. Carter has flashbacks, his own set of memoirs with his friends that show me that this band of brothers were close, they were thick and these memories are what Carver needs to help him move forward. I laughed, I wanted to punch a few individuals, and I was proud of a few people who shined. This was a wonderful novel and I was so excited to read it. I received a free copy of this novel from Read It Forward and Random House Kids as part of the Silent Book Club Sweepstakes - thank you. This review is my opinion.
Anonymous 5 months ago
I laughed, I cried.. This book needs to be read by all walks of life, from teens to grandparents.. This book holds some of the most beautiful quotes I have ever read, as if they were written just for me.
JillJemmett 10 months ago
This story broke my heart and put it back together again. It was incredibly moving. The premise of the story is that Carver texts his friends while they are driving, and they get into a fatal car accident while responding. Carver has to deal with the guilt of potentially causing his three best friends to die, while also moving on with his life. Carver goes on “Goodbye Days” with his friends’ families, in which they do his friends’ favourite things so everyone can say goodbye to them. It was fascinating to read about this fairly new experience: texting while driving. There is a law, in this story, where a person could be charged with involuntary manslaughter for doing an action which you know could cause someone’s death. In this case, Carver texted his friend, knowing he may respond while driving and cause an accident. In my opinion, Carver shouldn’t have been blamed for this accident since his friend Mars ultimately made the decision to text while driving. However, it was up to the authorities to decide on his fate. I don’t want to give anything away, because this is an important story with a modern lesson. I really liked the ending! I loved this whole story, and I highly recommend it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a beautiful, crazy, amazing book. A teen texts his friend who is driving. A car accident happens while the friend is trying to text back while driving, killing himself and the two other friends in the car. This leaves our protagonist (Carver) without his three and only best friends. He blames himself and then finds out that the police are investigating him for negligent homicide. He has a hard time reconciling this because he does feel guilty, but does he deserve to go to jail? It's complex and beautiful and sad. If you thought The Serpent King made you ugly cry, you haven't seen anything yet. I cannot count the number of times I cried in this one. It's likely the book that has made me cry more than any other book. Ever.
ahyperboliclife More than 1 year ago
“Pareidola … It’s when your mind sees a pattern you recognize where there isn’t one. Like seeing a face in the moon. Or shapes in clouds. What a beautiful word. For something that isn’t always beautiful.” What a beautiful story of loss, grief, and healing. Carver Briggs life changes after he sent simple text to his three best friends right before all three die in a car accident. Now facing prosecution for their deaths, and blame from his friends families, Carver begins healing through new friends, therapy, and Goodbye Days - celebrating his friends memories with their loved ones. Goodbye Days showcases the many forms of grief and the long and hard process of healing after your world changes in an instant. Things I Liked I loved seeing grief in it’s many forms. This story does suc ha great job of exploring the pain, anger, resentment, hopeless, and many other facets of grief and loss. I love that not only do we get to see such a wide range of emotions from different characters, but Carver’s emotional journey is shown as a complex process. I really feel like I get to know Blake, Eli, and Mars, not only through their goodbye days, but in their friendship with Carver. They were each such vibrant personalities and I loved learning more about them through their loved ones. This book was FILLED with supportive families. Each family, while dealing with immense grief, clearly shows their love and care for their children. I loved seeing Carver’s family being so supportive of his healing process, and encourage therapy. And we get a very positive portrayal of therapy. Also, Nana Betsy, Blake’s grandmother, was the absolute greatest. The flow of the story was just really beautiful. There’s a natural rhythm that makes the story really easy to read, even when some chapters are on the long side - they never feel flat. Things I Didn’t Like How Blake’s goodbye day was phrased was weird, even though what was happening was meaningful and beautiful. Just the way they were talking about it was making it weird, when what was happening was completely normal. I honestly could have done without the romantic feeling in the story. I understand the connection after loss and think it was written well, but I just really didn’t want it. This was such an emotional story - which I LOVE. And it was so easy to become completely invested in the characters. This story is so raw and honest - it grips your heart. Goodbye Days is a standout story of loss, healing, and what happend in between.
CodyTheReader More than 1 year ago
The full review can be found at I became a huge fan of Jeff Zenter after reading his first book, The Serpent King. I approached this book hoping it would be ever bit as fulfilling as the first, and it did not disappoint. Goodbye Days follows Carver Briggs, the main character who sent a text to his friend Mars while he was driving. This act may or may not have lead to Mars crashing his car, killing himself and his two passengers, Carver’s other friends. Following the funerals, Carver begins to hold a series of “Goodbye Days”, a day for each of his departed friends, where he spends time with their parents and loved ones. The intent is that they will spend the day doing things that the departed enjoyed and tell stories about them. It gives them a chance to say goodbye and celebrate their loved ones’ lives. Carver has to deal with coming to terms with the death of his three friends and his possible role to play in the tragedy. We see how various friends and family members of the deceased teenagers deal with their grief, their varying reactions to Carver’s possible role in the deaths, and how losing a loved one effects their lives as well. This is not light reading; however, it is not dark for the sake of being dark. Zenter is good at evoking the emotions that company depression and guilt, but he also does something much harder: he depicts the slow, jagged, uneven journey of moving through those motions to something that might be considered finding peace. I hesitate to go into too much detail for fear of dropping a spoiler, but will I’ll say that there is an emotional payoff to reading this novel. You’ll come away feeling satisfied and renewed. Here’s a few things that stood out to me as I read: 1) The Humor. I know I said it was a dark novel, and it is. But Zenter knows how to balance the heavier themes with truly fulfilling comedy. I straight laughed out loud while reading this novel. What’s more delightful, the humor occurs amongst the interactions of the characters. Not only does this deepen the characterization, but it gives the reader this warm and fuzzy feelings you get when you see people who care about each other cracking inside jokes. At the risk of sounding prudish, most of the humor we find in our current tv shows, books, and social media feeds is spiteful in nature. It’s refreshing to see a piece of work that captures the feeling of close friends cracking well meaning, albeit still immature, jokes. 2) The South. I grew up in a small town in Western North Carolina. Both of Zenter’s books capture the nuances of living in the American south. The small town feel, the voice he gives to one of the character’s “Nana”, driving into a bigger town to go to the mall, the way religion is tied to everything, always hanging in the background. Zenter evokes this perfectly. His character’s are southern without being stereotypes. 3) Religion. It’s probably an unavoidable topic when writing southern fiction, even if your writing about today’s south, but the way Goodbye Days handles religion was refreshing. Carver beings to question his religion and belief in the afterlife for the first time in his life following the deaths. We see how several of the characters use religion, in both good and bad ways, in response to the deaths of their loved ones. The novel doesn’t beat you over the head with the topic. Rather, it gently plays wit
itsraymarie More than 1 year ago
This book. Wow. I almost don't know how to review it. It was utterly heart wrenching and emotional, which are the only kind of books Jeff Zentner writes apparently. The story follows Carver as he navigates his life after a texting and driving accident took the lives of his three best friends. He has to deal with his grief, his guilt, and how to move on. Pros: I think death isn't explored so much in YA, so I did like that this book focuses on that. Teenagers lose people too, and I can't imagine losing all your best friends at once. It's also good awareness about the dangers of texting and driving. The positive portrayal of therapy and getting help when you need it was also super important. I think this book also did a good job in showing all the different ways grief can manifest, and how important it is to grieve in your own way. Carver does three different Goodbye Days, and each family was different in the way that they were shown. Carver and Jesmyn go to a School for Arts, and I like how their art (writing and piano respectively) was such an important and integral part of them. (Also! A spoilery thing about Jesmyn that I feel was added almost randomly but I liked. It was cool representation of something not seen that often.) The writing is beautiful, and heartbreaking. Zentner really got us into Carver's head, and the grief and emotions he feels. Carver's family (parents + sister) are very involved in the story, and I liked that added dynamic. I think it's because I also relate to Carver and his relationship with his parents almost exactly. Cons: I was a little wary of the relationship. While I understand that the only two left would be bonded deeply by their shared loss, I wasn't sure how I felt about it. However, I am okay with the direction Zentner went and how he chose to leave things. The boys, as a group, just felt...very immature. I understand that Carver's flashbacks often went pretty far back, but even the ones where they were in high school still felt that way. I mean, I know teenage boys can be dumb, but I just still wasn't very convinced. I'm not sure how accurate the court stuff was? It definitely added a lot of emotional turmoil to the book, though. Again, this book was very heartbreaking and emotional and lovely. I loved it, and would absolutely recommend it (with the disclaimer of be prepared to have your heart ripped out).
BonnieFerrante More than 1 year ago
Zentner understands survivor's guilt at the deepest level. This is a story about the tragic deaths of three teenagers and the impact it has on the fourth friend and their families. Carver Briggs feels responsible for the death of his three best friends. He distracted the driver, Eli, with a text. Eli then crashed the vehicle and killed all the occupants. Each family responds differently to the deaths of their children and to Carver's involvement. But the story is really about Carver dealing with grief, death, fear and loneliness. Zentner describes a panic attack so vividly that you may catch yourself tensing in response. The only person who Carver can socialize with his the bereaved girlfriend of Eli, the driver. This raises complicated issues and feelings. Blake's grandmother, Betsy, asks Carver to spend the day reliving her special moments with her grandson, whom she has raised since four years of age. Carver, who is barely coping has mixed feelings about this event but agrees for the sake of the grandmother. This opens up a whole new can of worms with the other parents of the deceased teenagers. The author stops the book from becoming a dirge by interspersing chapters of Carver's silly, happy memories with his friends. But, the author also adds to the tension by raising the possibility that Carver will be sent to jail for his part in the deaths. Zentner tells a story with great sensitivity and insight. The emotional depth portrayed by the protagonist and the other characters is realistic, insightful, and unforgettable. No matter whether you believe Carver contributed to the deaths or not, you will root for this young man in hopes that he can put his life back together. You will quickly become invested in the story and find yourself curling up in a corner and refusing to move until you are finished.
amvkv More than 1 year ago
Goodbye Days, a novel by Jeff Zentmer is a moving book that will be of great value in the high school library. Students need to read this eye-opening book in the same way that books such as THOUSAND WORDS and BUTTER were of great value because of their contemporary messages in a world of technology. Is it true that a person can be liable if he or she texts someone who is driving and gets in an accident? It may seem the answer is, “No Way!” the most recent article online has a headline Texting A Person While They’re Driving Could Land You In Jail and other articles discuss being sued for liability, but most high school students are totally unaware of what is happening in legal accountability changes taking place. For this reason alone, GOODBY DAYS should be to the front of publicized book s for young adults. Other than the legal ramifications, is the story of a group of four male guys in high school who are great friends. Carver is finished at work and waiting for the other three who are coming from the movies. He knows the one who will answer his text is Mars, WHO HAPPENS TO BE DRIVING. Mars is replying to Carver’s text when he does not realize that a semi is stopped in front of him. The car slams into it at 70 miles per hour and the top of it is sheared off, killing his three friends. Now Carver has to deal with the guilt, the sorrow, the law coming after him, and the hatred of a former friend who is a sister to one of the boys. Notonly is it her hatred for him, but also all those she influences at school. Two people who does not feel animosity toward him is Blake’s grandmother and Mars’ girlfriend. This could be helpful except now he finds himself falling for mars’ girlfriend, his only friend, and feels more guilt for benefiting from his friend’s death. I recommend this book for every high school and public library. We all need to consider this before sending that next text - and especially if we know the receiver is driving. I received this book from the publisher through BLOGGING FOR BOOKS and that in no way influenced this positive review.
Caroles_Random_Life More than 1 year ago
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.
Aditi-ATWAMB More than 1 year ago
It’s Monday Morning right now. I finished this book over a day and a half ago, but I haven’t been able to organise my thoughts about it, and so I just decided to pour them all out onto my review · Goodbye Days was EASILY one of my most anticipated reads of the year. I ADORED Jeff Zentner’s The Serpent King and all the heart break and hope it made me feel, and I was so excited for what he would do with Goodbye Days. · That being said, I REALLY REALLY wanted to enjoy Goodbye Days. I think Jeff is an AMAZING person, I love his writing style and this book IS THE PERFECT SET-UP FOR HEARTBREAK. · I lost a friend recently. We weren’t ‘best’ friends by any means, but we were friends, and his death was so senseless and so reckless and it just shocked me that life could end that easily, and I really wanted to feel something with this book as the protagonist loses his THREE best friends. · Goodbye Days WAS NOT what I thought it would be. For starters, I didn’t once FEEL that overwhelming grief that I wanted to feel, and that I felt when I heard the news about my friend. The book fell TOTALLY flat in this aspect, and more than feeling the grief, the main focus of this was getting back to ‘normal.’ It’s just how I felt – maybe not AS much with Carver, but definitely with Jesmyn. · Another thing I couldn’t wrap my head around was Carver and his dead best friend’s girlfriend – Jesmyn. I would have liked them as friends, I REALLY WOULD HAVE, but I KNEW that he was developing feelings for her, and this feeling or wrongness settled around me that I couldn’t shake. I liked that they hung out, I LOVED that they had each other for support but it still felt all sorts of wrong to me. · I did LOVE two very specific characters in the book – Nana Betsy and Georgia. Nana Betsy was honest and good and kind of an awesome grandmother (I went and gave mine a long hug after) and I FELT HER PAIN. More than anything else, I FELT HER PAIN. It felt like the pain I expected from Carver, but didn’t get. Georgia is Carver’s older sister and she too is all kinds of awesome. They made the book a whole lot better. · I also wish we had MORE of The Sauce Crew flashbacks, and less Jesmyn and Carver (The Sweat Crew) because I feel like even AFTER the Goodbye Days for each of them, that I BARELY KNEW THEM, And HOW DO I FEEL SAD FOR PEOPLE I DON’T KNOW? · Did I cry? YES. Big fat tears. This was a GOOD BOOK. It was highly emotional (and brought back memories from four months ago when my friend died) and DEFINITELY a good story, that I KNOW could have been better, I would recommend Goodbye Days – it’s a thought provoking read, but not as much as I would shove The Serpent King into your arms and faces. 3 stars.
brittanysbookrambles More than 1 year ago
et me just tell you . . . this book hurt. Goodbye Days tells Carver's story, who lost his three best friends in a car accident, and it totally shattered my heart into little pieces. I literally lost track of how many times I cried while reading. So be prepared with comfort food and tissues, because this poignant story about cherishing your loved ones absolutely ravages your feelings with it's strikingly touching and genuine writing. Honestly, everything about this book is beautiful. I am utterly astonished by Jeff Zentner—this man has a gift. The story, the writing, the characters, and literally everything about this book was perfection, and I would not change a thing. So guys, if Goodbye Days is not on your TBR, you need to go and amend this grievance immediately. Because I can guarantee that this story will wreck you, but you will be truly thankful for it. About the Audiobook: I have to give a lot of credit to Michael Crouch for his narration of this novel. He perfectly depicted the character for me because while narrating, he became Carver. He expertly captured the emotions, the vibe, and the very essence of this book. I've been told by other fans of Michael Crouch's work that he can do literally any voice, and I know he's well-loved in the audiobook community. This makes me even more excited to listen to other books he has narrated!
MarisaR More than 1 year ago
Goodbye Days is the wonderful sophomore novel from the talented Morris Award-winning author, Jeff Zentner. In Goodbye Days, Carver Briggs has lost his three best friends in a tragic accident. Carver’s grief (and guilt) is palpable on every page and Zentner’s exploration of it is poignant and heartfelt. But underneath all the grief, tucked within the beautiful words, is the thread of hope. And that is what makes this a novel to savor. Its story and characters will stay with you long after turning the final page. Do not miss it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jeff Zentner stated (note: not verbatim) that this book was his love letter to the city of Nashville and I felt that ring true and through from the first page to the last. It made me want to visit the city as soon as possible and it also made me want to sit with him and pick his brain about this engaging, character-driven, emotionally-wrenching, and simply beautiful tale. Carver Briggs. I mean, poor guy. He's been through the ringer and blames himself for the death of his three best friends. This story explores the dark and scary places our minds visit when dealing with grief and when mixed together with shame and guilt, well, it's a disastrous combination. So much in fact, that Carver begins to experience panic attacks. The story is told in alternating scenes between past and present so the reader gets a great feel for what the deceased friends were like individually and their dynamic as the "Sauce Crew." It's part of the reason I started to build such strong emotional attachments to each (Eli, Blake, and Mars) and why I cared about Carver so much that I wanted to give him a big ole hug to comfort him like his newfound friend Jesmyn. Speaking of guilt, Jesmyn just happens to be the "widow" girlfriend of Eli which complicates things a bit. But really, it's probably the criminal investigation prompted by Mars's dad -- who just happens to be a judge and overall menacing guy -- that ends up complicating Carver's life exponentially. What's a person to do when your life is in shambles and you don't know how you can possibly continue? That's right, therapy. The sessions with Dr. Mendez were some of my favorite and he was a great catalyst at bringing about the growth and change Carver undergoes as the story progresses. And I probably should mention the "goodbye days" since it is the title of the book. This stems from an idea suggested by Blake's grandmother, Nana Betsy. I pictured her as a cute-as-a-button, darling old woman whose wrinkles certainly tell tales, probably the only one other than his parents who doesn't believe he's guilty, and the first to suggest to Carver that they should have a goodbye day to honor the memory of her grandson. It's not long before the other two sets of rents get wind of this and so Carver gets three extremely different and very interesting renditions of a "Goodbye Day." A huge appeal for me was how raw and true the characters felt - including their blatant and ignorant racism (the adults) and insensitivity to members of the LGBTQ community (the Sauce Crew). Zentner didn't hold much back with these characters and that's why they felt authentic and unapologetic and seriously, like a huge breath of fresh air. Not once did I feel that their sentiments reflected those of the author and just the opposite, I gathered that it was part of their "southern" nature where the older generation garner certain types of prejudices which necessarily trickle down to the younger ones. It was obvious that Zentner really understands these people, a superb quality in an author. One thing I did notice was that the book lacked funny moments. It's to be expected since the topic of death is clouded in seriousness, but it's exactly why I would have liked to laugh a little more. Maybe it would have given it a more balanced feel. I mean, it's no secret that Jeff Zentner is absolutely hilarious (if you follow him on social media). But now that I think about it, there was one scene in which one character reveals a secret about himself
bjneary More than 1 year ago
Thank you to NetGalley, Random Houses Children’s and Crown Books for Young Readers for the ARC, Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner. I was compelled to read The Serpent King three times and with Zentner’s 2nd book, Goodbye Days, I will certainly be reading this book multiple times. Carver Briggs loses his 3 best friends with just one text, Where are you guys, text me back. With this ripped from the headlines story, a teen loses everything he loved - his best friends known as The Sauce Crew. Teen readers will deeply feel Carver’s palpable grief, his tremendous loss, and also the anger, rage, and unforgiving nature of some of his best friend’s family members. When Nana Betsy asks Carver to help her celebrate her grandson, Blake, in a Goodbye Day, both Nana and Carver learn things they did not know about Blake. It is a deeply moving day but one that Carver needed to deal with the loss of his best friend. Even though we never “meet” Blake, Mars and Eli; Carver’s memories of how they each met, each of their goodbye days, and Carver’s celebrations of their Sauce Crew antics, made these guys real and very exceptional to me. I knew them and loved them like Carver did. Carver navigated his grief and self-hatred by leaning on strong characters: Blake’s sister, Georgia was remarkable and supportive while Jesmyn (dated Eli) was such a new, special friend along with honest psychiatrist, Dr. Mendes. Teens will be passing this book around; there is so much they will relate to with Carver’s loneliness, despair, and turmoil but he is also someone they will root for, love, and hold tight in their hearts. Highly recommended for teens and adults.
hwheaties More than 1 year ago
When you’re in high school, your friends are more than friends; they’re a safety net, sounding board, and sometimes even closer than family. That was the case for Carver Briggs and his friends Eli, Blake, and Mars…until he loses it all in a way he’d never imagined. Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner is more than just a book about grief—it’s a book about goodbye-daysfriendships, relationships, absence, guilt, and how much loss affects us both in the immediacy and also for the rest of our lives. Carver Briggs has a pretty decent life; good friends, a good school, talent, and maybe a future as a writer. But one thing he wishes he’d never written is the text message that may or may not have ended the lives of his three best friends. This is no spoiler. In fact, the opening line of the book is, “Depending on who—sorry, whom—you ask, I may have killed my three best friends.” While the book revolves around this question of Carver’s culpability in the deaths of his friends, it centers more on Carver’s grief, guilt, and struggle to move on with his life. Of course it’s not easy for anyone to move on from such a tragedy, but what makes it worse is the compounded guilt he feels for seeing the families of his friends after they die. Carver must ultimately answer the question of what it means to grieve through an all-encompassing shroud of guilt. For Carver, at the very beginning, "…grief is animal, formless, unhinged in the illogic of dreams. You wake up and don’t remember what you were crying about. Or you do, and you were crying because you’ve been offered a chance at redeeming yourself. So when you realize it was a dream, you keep crying because your shot at redemption is another thing you’ve lost. And you’re tired of losing things.” Everywhere he turns, Carver sees life without his friends, and also has to decide how he’ll exist in a world without them. One of his friend’s grandmothers requests a “Goodbye Day”—a way to spend one more day with her grandson, Blake, and to say goodbye to him in a way that allows her some closure. For Carver, it’s a way to say goodbye as well, and a way to learn more about his friend and his friend’s life. The beauty of it is, the more Carver grieves, the more he learns about life and how to live it. He learns how his friends lived their lives, and how, in some cases, he knew so little about them. He learns that there is “Life everywhere. Pulsing, humming. A great wheel turning. A light blinks out here, one replaces it there. Always dying. Always living. We survive until we don’t. All of this ending and beginning is the only thing that’s infinite.” From moments of introspection like this, and the lessons he learns about his friends’ lives, Carver begins to understand the meaning of what it is to live, and what it is to live with happy memories of love and painful memories of grief all at once. In therapy, he begins to learn to see that the two are not mutually exclusive—they can exist together to create the real and true memories of the people we love and, eventually, lose. His therapist tells him, “Our memories of our loved one are the pearl that we form around the grain of grief that causes us pain.” Thinking of life and memories this way, as pearls that we form from our memories, both sharpened and polished by grief, allows Carver the ability to move on from grief and guilt that are at times debilitating. For a young man in high school, the effects of losing three anchors in life could reac
ruthsic More than 1 year ago
A realistic and poignant portrayal of grief, Goodbye Days takes us into the life of Carver, a young man who loses his best friends - Mars, Blake and Eli - in a car accident, and who blames himself for possibly causing it. At the time of the accident, one of his best friends Mars (who was driving) was texting him back. Now, in the aftermath of that accident, Carver is stuck in a whirlpool of grief, fear and guilt. The grief because he lost his closest and only friends in the world, the fear because one of the parents wants a criminal investigation into the accident with the purpose of seeing him in prison, and guilt because moving on feels like he is being stabbed over and over with their loss. My only experience with such a kind of grief has been distant (a family member dying) so I wouldn't know how to even imagine losing someone who has been a part of your life so closely and who have brought light into your life. Now, in his Sauce Crew-less world, his support system is his sister and Eli's girlfriend, Jesmyn. Coping with loss and trying to survive through it are the main arcs of this story. Emotion-wise, Goodbye Days is raw - it will make you laugh along with the shenanigans of the Sauce Crew, the witty quips between Carver and his sister or Carver and Jesmyn, and make you cry at every part where he remembers them or when their loss hits him hard. Trying to get closure, he agrees to a 'goodbye day' with Blake's grandmother - a day where they would hang out like Blake would with his grandmother, and they can tell each other stories about Blake. What really made me cry in these moments was the fact that it is a wound that you open again and again, to remember the person, but also to let yourself heal. But all of his goodbye days are not the same - because not all people process grief in the same manner. His goodbye days with the other parents are not beautiful and light, but they also show the varied ways in which people mourn. What I liked in this novel is the presence of a positive support system and a good therapy doctor who help Carver come to terms with this loss. It is not that he is happy and healed at the end of the book, but he is in a place where he can process through the grief of his friends in a better way. I loved the characters in the book, especially his sister, and I also loved how they were open with one another, be it the love or the hatred. I mean, I expected it because it I read The Serpent King, but the writing blew me over again. Zentner crafted an emotional, beautiful piece of art with this novel. Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Random House, via Netgalley.
hoping4nash More than 1 year ago
Goodbye Days is the story of Carver Briggs and his three friends: Eli, Blake, & Mars—as well as Eli’s girlfriend. When the story begins, however, we find out immediately that Eli, Blake, & Mars are dead, and Carver feels personally responsible for their deaths. While Carver was at work one day, he sent a text message to his friend Mars. His friend was driving, presumably looked at the text message, plowed into a truck, and everyone in the car died. Not only does Carver personally feel responsible for their deaths but he’s also grieving the loss of not just one person but of three—of a friendship group so steeped in traditions that Carver is left very much alone. Worse than that though is the ostracization he goes through when other people also feel he is personally responsible. Upon the suggestion of Blake’s grandmother, Carver begins a series of “goodbye days” : a day to symbolize the perfect last day for the lives ripped away much too soon. Zentner is able to craft a story that will resonate strongly with readers of all ages—not just young adult readers. He is able to capture an authentic voice for a male teen who seeks to become a writer. He is able to accurately portray the adults and the different forms that grief can take when the loss of a child is involved. One of the most stunning things that Zentner does is to also depict panic attacks as Carver begins to experience them. His writing is able to capture what they can indeed feel like as well as make the reader feel deeply when reading about what is happening to Carver. Zentner also has Carver’s sister Georgia care so much for her brother that she basically drags him to a therapist which is ultimately a very helpful person for Carver. This is such an important character to include in a young adult book, and Zentner wrote the character very well. For fans of The Serpent King, there is a cameo appearance that works extremely well in the pacing of the novel, and the appearance serves as a hopeful message both to Jesmyn (Eli’s girlfriend) and Carver. Zentner has created an absolutely breath-taking sophomore novel. It is one that will make you feel intensely. It is one that will make you question your own actions and whether or not you are as safe as you feel you are while driving. It is one that will make you think about the fragility of life and about the memories that you would leave behind. Perhaps, and I hope it does, it will make you think how to craft the best story you can for your own life.
LeighKramer More than 1 year ago
Jeff Zentner can write the hell out of a book. Let's just start there. I was truly blown away. I loved: The characters: We see everything from Carver's point of view and thus we are right in the thick of his grief. We meet his best friends Mars, Eli, and Blake - the Sauce Crew- through Carver's memories but somehow they are as present as if they were living, breathing characters. I felt like I truly understood who they were and had a sense of what they meant to their loved ones, even though their deaths permeated each page. Whether Carver was remembering Sauce Crew antics or how he met each one of his friends or even imagining what they'd say to him now, his friends are still a part of him. Sauce Crew was the bulk of his social life and without them around, Carver has next to no one to talk to, besides his sister Georgia and Eli's girlfriend Jesmyn. Carver has a hard time opening up to his parents about everything and it was hard to watch this at times because of how much they wanted to be there for him. Yet that's almost an essential part of the teenage experience, is it not? As Carver and Jesmyn lean more on each other, he has to face some hard truths about his feelings for her. I loved seeing how their friendship developed and how they helped each other grieve, despite the elephant in the room. Jesmyn's backstory and character took the novel in such interesting directions, particularly her synesthesia. The role of creativity in general added an extra depth because they all go to an art academy and each one has their own gift. (Blake's gift was the most unusual and unexpected.) The parents and grandmother of the deceased friends occupy a different space in the novel. They are alternately the angels and devils on Carver's shoulders; some absolving him and some condemning him. I felt their anguish and their despair and their determination to find a new normal. This was important to see, even if it wasn't always comfortable. The depiction of grief: Watching Carver mourn the loss of his best friends was very moving. He's not spared from his grief in any way. The families grieve in their own way, each representing a different mourning style and showing the aftereffects of loss. Some grief is healthy, some is not but there's no moralizing or prescription of how it should go. It rang true to life. As readers, we must grapple with the guilt intertwining Carver's grief. Did he play a role in his friends' deaths? Should legal action be taken against him? Not even he can accurately gauge the answers to those questions. The writing: So many lines knocked me over. From the descriptions to unique turns of phrase, this is a well-crafted novel. The writing isn't static. Each word, each chapter moves us forward and makes us curious about the characters and what might happen next. This could have been a heavy topic- and he doesn't shy away from exploring it- but it's emotionally resonant and there's still a good amount of humor. I laughed out loud way more than I was tempted to tear up. His writing sparkles. You may wonder how life-giving a novel about the consequences of driving while texting can be. But this was life-giving because it didn't shy away from the harder parts of grief. It shows we're not alone and we can get through hard times. Plus, this novel is really about what it means to live and that's what made it such an enjoyable read. Disclosure: I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
SMParker More than 1 year ago
What would it look like if we could spend a final day with the people who loved our departed most—doing the unique things that made each relationship special, finding comfort in shared remembering? Jeff Zentner answers this question for Carter, the main character in Goodbye Days. Carter is trying to come to grips with the loss of his best friends and the role he may or may not have played in their deaths. He is filled with guilt and grief. At its core, Goodbye Days is a sad book, but one that also provides readers with the profound hope that we might each be able to create Goodbye Day as part of the grieving process, and maybe learn more about our loved one (and ourselves) along the way. For me, that was the true gift of this book and why I devoured each lovely page.