Monday, March 19, 2018

Book Review: Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

Do you think about what someone might be doing when you send them a text?  Do you ever send a text when you think/know they might be driving?  In Goodbye Days, Carver Briggs is waiting on his three best friends (Mars, Eli, and Blake) to pick him up from work, and he sends them a simple text:

 Where are you guys? Text me back.

Their vehicle rear-ends a semi-truck and all three teenagers are killed.  When the driver’s phone is recovered, it contains a partial response to Carver’s text. This book covers the ensuing days with flashbacks thrown in.  Carver deals with guilt, grief, and the possibility of criminal charges for negligent manslaughter.  He starts a friendship with the girlfriend of one of his friends and she is an ally at school where no one knows how to treat him anymore.  Blake’s grandmother wants Carver to spend a goodbye day with her to share memories and say goodbye to Blake.  Eventually, Carver will spend a goodbye day with Eli’s and Mars’ family as well. 

I picked this book to read because I had previously read The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner, and it was a truly good read.  This book did not disappoint.  It was thought-provoking.  I also learned a few new words like pareidolia, synesthesia, and oeuvre.  In his previous novel (and this one as well), I feel connected to the characters.   Both novels also touch on teens questioning the religion of their parents.  This is a natural question during the teenage years:  Do I share my parents’ beliefs?  Zentner speaks to this issue without belittling or negating anyone’s belief system. 

One of the lines I liked:  “For the most part, you don’t hold the people you love in your heart because they rescued you from drowning or pulled you from a burning house.  Mostly you hold them in your heart because they save you, in a million quiet and perfect ways, from being alone.”