After first reading the blurb for Goodbye Days, I was happy that an author was finally going to write about the dangers of texting and driving. It’s such a dangerous thing to do and so many people die because of it. So to have a young adult book address this is amazing.
One day Carver Briggs had it all–three best friends, a supportive family and a reputation as a talented writer at his high school, Nashville Academy for the Arts. The next day it all crashed and burned, literally, after he wrote them out of existence with a text sent to his friend Mars–the last words his friends ever see.
Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the fatal crash and he’s not the only one. But Carver has some unexpected allies: Eli’s girlfriend, who is the only person to stand by him at school, and Blake’s grandmother, who asks Carver to spend a Goodbye Day with her–having him stand in as Blake for one last day doing all their favorite things so they can share memories and say a proper goodbye.
Soon Eli and Mars’s families are asking for a 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 prison or a complete breakdown?
This book gripped me immediately. We were taken straight into the story line and I felt like no build up was necessary; we were given character foundations through flashbacks that Carver had. I just felt so sorry for Carver but it also made me think about my actions. Carver knew that Mars was driving when he text him and Mars went to answer Carver’s text. Who’s in the wrong? Carver or Mars? Personally, I text my Mom when I know she is driving, but I know that she’ll reply once she is parked up. So does that make me equally as guilty as Carver? I don’t know… let me know your thoughts on this…
I also loved how panic attack were portrayed in Goodbye Days, I think Zentner describes them spot on. I actually got quite emotional reading Carver have a panic attack because it made me realise how scary it is for the people around you to witness it happening.
However, there were a few problematic areas for me….
1) During one of the flashbacks, Carver and Blake are shown to make jokes about hanging themselves and they then go on to imitate cutting their wrists… This was deeply upsetting to read, because it shouldn’t be used in a humorous context..
2) The second problematic area for me was when *slight spoiler ahead* Blake came out as gay to Carver but then Carver automatically questioned Blake as to why Blake wasn’t attracted to him. Just because someone is gay or lesbian, that does not mean that they are automatically attracted to everyone who is the same sex.
So yeah, those were the two problematic areas for me that made me feel slightly uncomfortable. But this was a very good book and I loved the way Zentner showed that it wasn’t strange to see a therapist to get some help. He made it feel normal (to a certain extent. There were a few times where Carver asked if he “was crazy yet?” that didn’t really sit right with me. Having panic attacks doesn’t make you ‘crazy’) Georgia – Carver’s sister – also went to therapy which I thought was good because, again, Zenter showed that therapy was normal.
“But understand that young black men have no margin for error in this country. I had to teach him that. I had to teach him that he can be the son of a judge, but if he acts the way young white men do – the way his friends do – he will be treated more harshly. People, police – they won’t see a judge’s son. They won’t see a kid who worked hard and mostly stayed on the straight and narrow. They’ll see another ‘young thug’ – the term du jour for all young black men in certain circles. They’ll go through and find every picture of him wearing clothes that are too big for him, or flipping off a camera, or acting like a normal, rambunctious young man, and that will be all the proof anyone will need that he got what was coming to him.”
– Jeff Zentner, Goodbye Days
I have one more issue. It’s not problematic, it’s just something that i didn’t like about the book. *spoiler ahead* I hated it. Absolutely HATED it when Carver started to fall in love with Jesmyn. No. She was your best friends boyfriend. You do not get to love her. It’s wrong. It’s so disrespectful to the memory of his best friend. And you know the most infuriating bit? I knew it was going to happen. Once they started hanging out and helping each other with their loss, I knew he was going to fall in love with her. And I didn’t want that at all. I am so glad she said no.
However, overall this is amazing book. I loved the whole concept of it, I loved the message that Zentner was conveying, I loved the characters, I loved Zentner’s writing style (apart from those few problematic areas) and the ending just made me cry. I do definitely recommend this book if you’re looking for a brilliant contemporary.
Disclaimer: this book was sent to me by the author in exchange for an honest review