Goodbye Days
Goodbye Days

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Annotation: Looks at a teen's life after the death of his best friend and how he navigates through the guilt and pain by celebrating their lives, and ultimately learning to forgive himself.
Catalog Number: #153702
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Random House
Copyright Date: 2018
Edition Date: 2018
Pages: 403 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-553-52409-7 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-0198-0
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-553-52409-3 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-0198-3
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2016008248
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
Horn Book
Seventeen-year-old Carver believes his text message confirms his culpability in the devastating car wreck that killed his three best friends. Looking for an outlet, Carver shares a "goodbye day" with Blake's grandmother and soon does the same with Eli's and Mars's families as well. Zentner skillfully depicts his protagonist's inner turmoil and the beginnings of his recovery in a frequently raw narrative.
Kirkus Reviews
Seventeen-year-old Carver Briggs feels responsible for the deaths of his best friends and must deal with his own life, now forever altered. "Where are you guys? Text me back," Carver texted his friend Mars, who replied, or at least started to, as proven by the half-composed text found on Mars' phone at the crash site. Mars had been driving while texting, and his car smashed into a semi on the highway, killing Mars, Blake, and Eli. Carver feels responsible, but is he responsible? It turns out that under Tennessee law (Nashville is the setting for the story), Carver might be held as "criminally negligent," since he knew Mars was driving and knew Mars would reply, even though he never intended to kill anyone. Zentner's novel peels back the many layers of feeling that Carver experiences as he deals with his family, the families of his friends, and school, the present-tense narration putting readers directly in Carver's head. However, although Carver is an unusually bright student with a supportive family and therapist, his voice is at times too adult, too didactic in delivering long passages of wise reflections about life normally gained from more time and experience. Still, it is a novel full of wisdom, even if Carver himself hasn't had time to acquire all of it himself. Carver is white, as are Eli and Blake; Mars is black. A fine cautionary tale and journey toward wisdom, poignant and realistic. (Fiction. 14-18)
Publishers Weekly
Carver Briggs already feels responsible when his three best friends are killed in a car accident after he sent a -Where are you guys?- text message to the driver. Now it seems as though the whole town wants him to be prosecuted, and he-s having debilitating panic attacks. When one friend-s grandmother suggests they pay tribute to the deceased by spending a -goodbye day- swapping stories and doing what he loved, Carver finds a cathartic way to atone for his perceived sins. From the opening line, Zentner (The Serpent King) expertly channels Carver-s distinctive voice as a 17-year-old writer turned -funeral expert- who argues with himself about girls and retains glimmers of easy wit despite the weight of his grief and guilt. Flashbacks and daydreams capture the jovial spirit of the four members of the so-called Sauce Crew, glimpses of sophomore shenanigans interspersed with poignant admissions only best friends would share. Racial tensions, spoiled reputations, and broken homes all play roles in an often raw meditation on grief and the futility of entertaining what-ifs when faced with awful, irreversible events. Ages 14-up. Agent: Charlie Olsen, Inkwell Management. (Mar.)

School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up&12; It was just a text: Carver wanted to know when his three best friends were going to pick him up. But those three best friends got into a car accident and never made it to him. Carver can't stop blaming himself and his text for their deaths, and things get worse after a judge is also interested in pointing the finger at him. Carver juggles his own feelings of guilt and the blame others direct at him as he decides to honor the memory of his friends through cathartic "goodbye days." Saving Carver (and the readers) from complete despair is Jesmyn, the former girlfriend of one of his deceased friends, and Dr. Mendez, a new therapist who help him wade through life after the funerals. Zentner is yanking heartstrings here in this painful but compelling narrative. Although sprinkled with lighter stories of the friends in happier times, this is a weighty, well-crafted novel&12;the kind of intelligent, intense, and life-affirming tale that will resonate with teens seeking depth and honesty. VERDICT Recommended as a first purchase for school and public libraries. Hand this to readers looking to explore the somber and complex realities of life, especially responsibility, fractured relationships, and the butterfly effect of consequences.&12; Emily Moore, Camden County Library System, NJ
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* "I may have killed my three best friends," 17-year-old Carver agonizes. How so? He sent a text to his friend Mars, knowing the boy was driving at the time; distracted by replying to the text, Mars crashed into a stopped truck, killing himself and Carver's two other best friends, Blake and Eli. Now Mars' father, a judge, has called on the district attorney to open an investigation and weigh charges of criminally negligent homicide against Carver. Bereft and virtually friendless, riddled by guilt, and overwhelmed by stress, Carver begins having panic attacks, which send him into therapy. Interestingly, he makes an unlikely new friend in Eli's girlfriend, Jesmyn, but when he tells her that he desires more than friendship with her, she rejects him. Meanwhile, Carver's attempts at atonement with Blake's grandmother, Eli's parents, and Mars' father meet with mixed success, feeding his subconscious desire for punishment. Zentner does an excellent job in creating empathetic characters, especially his protagonist Carver, a budding writer whose first-person account of his plight is artful evidence of his talent. The story builds suspense while developing not only empathetic but also multidimensional characters in both Carver and Jesmyn. The result is an absorbing effort with emotional and psychological integrity.
Word Count: 88,365
Reading Level: 4.3
Interest Level: 9-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.3 / points: 13.0 / quiz: 191421 / grade: Upper Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:4.5 / points:21.0 / quiz:Q71440
Guided Reading Level: L
Chapter One

Depending on who--­sorry, whom--­you ask, I may have killed my three best friends.

If you ask Blake Lloyd's grandma, Nana Betsy, I think she'd say no. That's because when she first saw me earlier today, she grabbed me in a huge, tearful hug and whispered in my ear: "You are not responsible for this, Carver Briggs. God knows it and so do I." And Nana Betsy tends to say what she thinks. So there's that.

If you ask Eli Bauer's parents, Dr. Pierce Bauer and Dr. Melissa Rubin-­Bauer, I expect they'd say maybe. When I saw them today, they each looked me in the eyes and shook my hand. In their faces, I saw more bereavement than anger. I sensed their desolation in the weakness of their handshakes. And I'm guessing part of their fatigue was over whether to hold me accountable in some way for their loss. So they go down as a maybe. Their daughter, Adair? Eli's twin? We used to be friends. Not like Eli and I were, but friends. I'd say she's a "definitely" from the way she glowers at me as if she wishes I'd been in the car too. She was doing just that a few minutes ago, while talking with some of our classmates attending the funeral.

Then there's Judge Frederick Douglass Edwards and his ex-­wife, Cynthia Edwards. If you ask them if I killed their son, Thurgood Marshall "Mars" Edwards, I expect you'd hear a firm "probably." When I saw Judge Edwards today, he towered over me, immaculately dressed as always. Neither of us spoke for a while. The air between us felt hard and rough as stone. "It's good to see you, sir," I said finally, and extended my sweating hand.

"None of this is good," he said in his kingly voice, jaw muscles clenching, looking above me. Beyond me. As though he thought if he could persuade himself of my insignificance, he could persuade himself that I had nothing to do with his son's death. He shook my hand like it was both his duty and his only way of hurting me.

Then there's me. I would tell you that I definitely killed my three best friends.

Not on purpose. I'm pretty sure no one thinks I did it on purpose; that I slipped under their car in the dead of night and severed the brake lines. No, here's the cruel irony for the writer I am: I wrote them out of existence. Where are you guys? Text me back. Not a particularly good or creative text message. But they found Mars's phone (Mars was driving) with a half-­composed text responding to me, just as I requested. It looks like that was what he was working on when he slammed into the rear of a stopped semi on the highway at almost seventy miles per hour. The car went under the trailer, shearing off the top.

Am I certain that it was my text message that set into motion the chain of events that culminated in my friends' deaths? No. But I'm sure enough.

I'm numb. Blank. Not yet in the throes of the blazing, ringing pain I'm certain waits for me in the unrolling days ahead. It's like once when I was chopping onions to help my mom in the kitchen. The knife slipped and I sliced open my hand. There was this pause in my brain as if my body needed to figure out it had been cut. I knew two things right then: (1) I felt only a quick strike and a dull throbbing. But the pain was coming. Oh, was it coming. And (2) I knew that in a second or two, I was about to start raining blood all over my mom's favorite bamboo cutting board (yes, people can form deep emotional attachments to cutting boards; no, I don't get it so don't ask).

So I sit at Blake Lloyd's funeral and wait for the pain. I wait to start bleeding all over everything.

Excerpted from Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

“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." 
Buzzfeed

"Masterful." —TeenVogue.com

“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


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