Sunday, January 22, 2017

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

Goodbye Days
Jeff Zentner
expected publication date: March 7, 2017
4/5 stars

Carver's three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blane, die in a car crash.  In the wreckage, Mars' phone is found replying to a text from Carver, and Carver can't stop blaming himself.  Neither can Mars' Judge father, whose influence opens a criminal investigation against Carver.  Carver finds himself ostracized at his high school and suffering from panic attacks.  His only allies outside of family are Eli's girlfriend who needs support herself, and Blane's grandmother who requests that Carver have a "goodbye day" with her.

This "goodbye day" would be a day where she and Carver do all the favorite things that she did with Blane, to find closure.  Unexpectedly, Eli's parents, and later Mars' father, ask for a goodbye day, as well, but their motives might be different.

Carver faces deep emotional turmoil as he examines his role in the accident, and tries to come to grips with his grief.

Goodbye Days is written for a Young Adult audience, with the intention of providing a realistic example of dealing with grief.  Zentner does this well. He also does an excellent job portraying the depth of grief, panic attacks, and the different reactions that grief can cause.  His writing is strong, his characters lifelike, and the plot believable.

That being said, I must confess that I had no connection with any of the characters in the story.  I didn't find Carver's memories of his friends funny or touching, nor did I become emotionally invested in his grief.  Furthermore, I found the descriptions of the goodbye days to be off-putting and slightly creepy.

 I have read other reviews of this book on Goodreads, and I know that my reaction is the atypical one, so I'll stress that this review, as is any review, is simply my personal opinion.

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