Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

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Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Olivia Tierney
Reviewed by Olivia Tierney
Summary: Revolving around the heart-breaking aftermath of a car accident which was caused by a text, Goodbye Days is an exceptional piece of literature that will touch you on many levels. Sad, poignant but equally hilarious, the story follows Carver's grief and tormenting guilt immediately after the deaths of his three best friends. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 416 Date: April 2017
Publisher: Andersen Press
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1783445516

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Where are you guys? Text me back.

Ending three lives with seven words becomes Carver's reality when he sends a simple, impatient text to his best friend. His best friend who is driving and on the way to pick him up at any moment. His best friend who in replying to his text, rams into the back of a truck instantly killing himself and their other two best friends in the car.

Overwhelmed by grief, tortured by guilt and facing the possibility of being charged with negligent murder Carver struggles to come to terms of the absence of his best friends as the sole saviour of the Sauce Squad. Suffering from panic attacks and battling loneliness as an outcast at school, the ghosts of his friends – Blake, Eli and Mars – are never far from his thoughts. Their traditions and his memories of them haunt him relentlessly in dreams and reality.

Then, to handle her grief, Blake's grandmother asks Carver to join her and honour Blake with a 'goodbye day'. A day dedicated to doing things her grandson used to love, a chance for her to get to know him better. A day intended to say goodbye and to find some closure. Yet will Carver, the one everyone in town, including himself, believes was responsible for their deaths ever find closure? Will the goodbye days and the support of his older sister, his therapist as well as Eli's girlfriend be enough to help Carver carry on and be happy once more?

Jeff Zentner has written such a powerful book. Goodbye Days is moving, sad but also very real. Not only does it tackle grief, loss and accountability, it's principally about friendship and the bonds we form with those around us. The bonds and love we share with our best friends that survive even death. However, it's so much more than that. It's also about hope, finding redemption and having the strength and courage to live through trying circumstances and make a life for yourself once more.

The strongest message I got from this book was a reminder to treasure those in your life as much as possible before it's too late. Moreover that, after death it is important to remember them as you knew and share their story with others in the process of grieving. The writing is absolutely beautiful. We experience everything that happens to Carver, everything he feels and it's heartbreaking. It's an emotional rollercoaster that's incredibly well crafted and stellar in its execution. It's difficult not to love Carver, also known as Blade, after the first page and as he faces a mountain of challenges it is impossible to not empathise and care about him.

Through Carver's memory flashbacks, we learn to love Blake, Eli and Mars individually and collectively as the Sauce Squad. Their hilarious first day at school antics, their milkshake traditions and their personalities shine through. I was blown over by just how emotionally connected I was to the three boys and this is credited with the way in which the author introduces the reader to the characters. It was impressive and all the more heart-wrenching to see and feel how our four protagonists found a place they belonged and never stopped laughing.

A beautiful book which got more beautiful with every page. Effortlessly funny but sad, Goodbye Days is a remarkable book that will stay with you long after the final page.

Thank you very much to the kind people at Andersen Press for a sending a copy of the book to review!

For another emotional rollercoaster, The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner is a superbly written and emotional novel with unforgettable characters. This too is highly recommended!

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