07 March 2017

Review: Goodbye Days

Goodbye Days
by Jeff Zentner

Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: March 7, 2017

GOODBYE DAYS, Jeff Zentner's sophomore novel, takes a look at the ramifications of sorrow, loss, and how to move on. Carver, Eli, Blake, and Mars had been thick as thieves since they were barely teenagers; they formed an inseparable group entitled the "Sauce Crew" by the members themselves. Yet, when three of the foursome meet their untimely end the summer before senior year due to a car crash, Carver, the lone survivor, is faced with the blame. Mere moments before the crash, Carver texted Mars, the driver of the car, asking where they were since he was waiting to be picked up by the other three, and that text was found open on Mars's phone at the wreck. Facing a legal battle brought on by the judge father of one of his friends and struggling with his own grief, Carver finds support in his family and what few friends he has left, including the former girlfriend of one of the victims, and tries to make peace with the loss of his friends through a series of memorial "Goodbye Days".

This book was a bit unusual to me; it had a strange mix of beautifully crafted and powerful sentences next to choppy and awkwardly phrased dialogue, but it still managed to get its point across. While I couldn't understand exactly why Carver was being blamed for the accident, rather than Mars who was actually driving the car, his struggle with his losses and mental health felt raw and honest. The goodbye days, while emotional, felt a bit cheesy and unrealistic, but they were the main way that the perspectives and backstories of both the victims and their families was introduced into the story, and for me, that was the best part of the novel. Overall, I enjoyed this book for its dynamic character relationships and fresh take on the classic YA friend/family death trope. I'd recommend it for anyone who enjoys books like LOOKING FOR ALASKA or 13 REASONS WHY.

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