Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

Goodbye Days

by Jeff Zentner

“Gorgeous, heartbreaking, and ultimately life-affirming.” Nicola Yoon, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Everything, Everything.

Perfect for fans of Turtles All the Way Down,Thirteen Reasons Why, and Zentner's own The Serpent King, one of the most highly acclaimed YA novels of 2016, Goodbye Days asks what you would do if you could spend one last day with someone you lost.

Where are you guys? Text me back. That's the last message Carver Briggs will ever send his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. He never thought that it would lead to their death.

Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident and even worse, a powerful judge is pressuring the district attorney to open up a criminal investigation. 
Luckily, Carver has some unexpected allies: Eli’s girlfriend, the only person to stand by him at school; Dr. Mendez, his new therapist; and Blake’s grandmother, who asks Carver to spend a “goodbye day” together to share their memories and say a proper farewell.
Soon the other families are asking for their own 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 a complete breakdown or—even worse—prison?

"Jeff Zentner, you perfectly fill the John-Green-sized hole in our heart." Justine Magazine

“Evocative, heartbreaking, and beautifully written." 

"Masterful." —

“Hold on to your heart: this book will wreck you, fix you, and most definitely change you.” —Becky Albertalli, Morris Award-winning author of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Reviewed by wcs53 on

5 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a review from Early Reviewers at LibraryThing.

Teenager Carver Briggs is mourning the death of his three best friends in a car accident. Unfortunately, he may have played a big part in their death. An innocently sent text is at the centre of the debate of whether or not he was to blame. It's complicated by the fact that the parent of one of the dead friends is a highly respected judge, looking for someone to blame. Further complications ensue when he starts falling for the girlfriend of another of the friends.

This was an interesting and enjoyable read. The characters were well-developed and the story move along well. At times it's easy to understand why some of the characters needed to find someone to blame, but mainly most of the sympathy falls upon Carver, who is going through hell, as he deals with not only his great loss, but the pressures coming at him from all sides.

The title refers to Carver spending a day with people who were significant in the lives of his dead friends, doing something with each of them that had meaning one last time, sharing things about them that perhaps the others didn't know. These are bittersweet days for Carver and each day brings its own particular challenges and complications.

The story is definitely an emotional roller-coaster of a read. I'm sure it would be helpful for young people who may be experiencing loss in their lives. In spite of a lot of the focus being on the dead teens, it is a life-affirming story. Those left behind still have to get on with their lives and find ways of moving forward, while trying to make sense of it all.

It is a page-turner, that as hard to put down in the end, and was a worthwhile read.

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Reading updates

  • Started reading
  • 8 June, 2018: Finished reading
  • 8 June, 2018: Reviewed