Book Review: Goodbye Days

The design of the front cover depicts the message of the dangers of texting and driving. Zentner describes the devastating after effects of texting and driving, especially for teens. (Photo courtesy of Penguin Random House)

It’s the summer before his senior year, and Carver Briggs is attending the funerals of his three best friends–self-named the Sauce Crew. Thurgood ‘Mars’ Edwards, Blake Lloyd, and Eli Bauer; three exceptional artists in their own right, all attended a private arts school where they grew closer and were almost like brothers. On August 1, Carver sends Mars a simple text message, yet the two sentences could be the cause of their death.

“Where are you guys? Text me back.” As Mars is driving, he attempts to reply; but meanwhile, he rammed the car into the back of a semi-truck–killing Mars, Blake, and Eli immediately.

Goodbye Days tells the story of Carver–the last remaining member of the Sauce Crew–as he starts senior year without his best friends and attempts to cope with his grief and guilt. Along the way, he begins to plan ‘goodbye days’ with the family of each boy and finally lay their memories to rest. On these goodbye days, Carver confronts grief, deep sadness, and unknowable guilt while sharing his stories of each of his friends and teaching their families the side of the person they never met and never will meet.

I loved Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner. It has been a long time since I have read a book that so eloquently described unimaginable feelings during an unimaginable situation. This book will make you laugh, cry, and think critically about the fleeting moments of life–sometimes all at the same time.

While it seems like a dark topic for Young Adult Fiction, Goodbye Days is a good balance between deep, thought-provoking topics and humor (with a few fart stories tied in). Zentner creates well-developed characters that you feel are your best friends; and by the end, you are crying right along with Carver.

Personally, I believe that this book and this topic are very important and relevant to teens today. Many students at Leesville have passed away just this year, and nationally, teens are facing a continuing problem of destructive decisions. As much as adults want to shelter younger generations, we must all face that teenagers are coming into contact with tough situations such as death, grief, and guilt.

Sure, Goodbye Days may be a book about tough topics, but it is for teenagers–many of whom deal with the same tough topics. I would highly recommend any and every teen to read Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner.

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