This book is just WOW! Jeff Zentner solidified his place alongside the likes of YA Contemporary greats like Adam Silvera, Becky Albertalli, and Benjamin Alire Saenz with The Serpent King, and he’s certainly done so again with Goodbye Days.
This is definitely another book that I will be vehemently thrusting on everyone I know. It really is that good, folks.
Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner
Unfortunately, I could not find an actual Della Tazza Vineyard in Tennessee; however, I did find a de Terra Winery in Tennessee and had to pair this book with one of their wines. I would recommend pairing their Ghost White wine with Goodbye Days, since Carver is so haunted by the memories of his friends and his guilt over their tragic deaths.
*All wine recommendations are strictly for those of legal drinking age only.*
The Nitty Gritty
- Title: GoodBye Days
- Author: Jeff Zentner
- Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
- Pub Date: March 7, 2017
- Pages: 416
Can a text message destroy your life?
Carver Briggs never thought a simple text would cause a fatal crash, killing his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident and even worse, there could be a criminal investigation into the deaths.
Then Blake’s grandmother asks Carver to remember her grandson with a ‘goodbye day’ together. Carver has his misgivings, but he starts to help the families of his lost friends grieve with their own memorial days, along with Eli’s bereaved girlfriend Jesmyn. But not everyone is willing to forgive. Carver’s own despair and guilt threatens to pull him under into panic and anxiety as he faces punishment for his terrible mistake. Can the goodbye days really help?
So I spent my weekend binge reading Jeff’s books. First The Serpent King and then Goodbye Days. Let me tell you, it was one feels filled weekend! So much crying! But it was also amazing. Jeff’s ability to make readers feel emotions that range from ugly to beautiful and everything in between is just mind-blowing!
Carver is a character that you will immediately fall in love with. You’ll feel so much of his pain, guilt, loss, and fear, and you’ll be rooting for him from the very beginning. The flashbacks of him hanging out with his three best friends will make you laugh out loud. Jeff’s portrayal of teenage relationships and interactions is just spot-on. Every bit of this book feels authentic, and that authenticity really just sucks you right up into the story. I could not put it down.
I love that this book was set in Nashville and that Jeff mentions things like Teen Rock Camp in the book that are real-life things that mean something to him. They say you should write what you know, and you can absolutely tell that Jeff is writing from experience in these stories. The realness of not only some locations but the emotions absolutely bleeds through the pages.
This book definitely highlights the dangers and terrible consequences that can come from texting and driving. But it also focuses a lot on the dangers of blame, the necessity of forgiveness, and the interconnectedness of all of our stories.
I can not put into words how phenomenal Jeff’s writing is, because I’m not nearly as talented a writer as he is. But what I can say is that you really need to read his books. Not only will they give you an incredibly rich emotional experience, but his writing skill will make anyone who has ever said that YA fiction isn’t literary hang their heads in shame.
I also adored the concept of the Goodbye Days themselves. What a beautiful way to honor those that you love. And in the complex situations of these particular Goodbye Days, what a gift to be able to give a grieving parent. Aahhh, the feels! I’m tearing up just writing this.
Despite the heaviness of the story, there are also some wonderful moments of levity, and this book ultimately left me filled with hope. It also left me with so, SO many tear-stained pages just as The Serpent King did.
Even this cover gives me the feels. Seriously, I could cry just LOOKING at it. It’s so simple, but the symbolism of those three dots and that text message that you are forever waiting to come through. Just WOW.
While this book is much more about Carver’s journey through guilt, grief, and fear, there is also a SUPER sweet romance in it. I’m confident that lovers of fluffy contemporaries will love this book too.
A The Serpent King Cameo?!
Yes, there is a MOST AWESOME TSK cameo in this book! The cameo actually adds to the TSK story, so if you are a fan of TSK (which you all REALLY should be) do not miss this book!
Jeff Zentner is the author of the William C. Morris Award winning book The Serpent King (2016) as well as Goodbye Days (2017). He lives in Nashville, Tennessee. He came to writing through music, starting his creative life as a guitarist and eventually becoming a songwriter. He’s released five albums and appeared on recordings with Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Thurston Moore, Debbie Harry, Mark Lanegan, and Lydia Lunch, among others.
He became interested in writing for young adults after volunteering at the Tennessee Teen Rock Camp and Southern Girls Rock Camp. As a kid, his parents would take him to the library and drop him off, where he would read until closing time. He worked at various bookstores through high school and college.
He speaks fluent Portuguese, having lived in the Amazon region of Brazil for two years.
Have you read Jeff’s books yet? Did you love them as much as I did? Who are some of your favorite YA contemporary authors?