Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner // heartbreaking but beautiful

Friday, June 2, 2017

it's legitimately been forever since i've reviewed a book on this blog.

jeez Madeline, it's not like you're running a book blog or something.

ANYWAYS, i was super excited when i got the chance to receive a review copy of Goodbye Days because it had really great reviews on goodreads and was written by Jeff Zentner who, as it says on the cover, is the author of The Serpent King (which i tragically still haven't read. i need to get on that soon.)

let's get into the review!

by Jeff Zentner

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 he lost it all when he sent a simple text to his friend Mars, right before Mars, Eli, and Blake were killed in a car crash. Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident, and he’s not the only one. Eli’s twin sister is trying to freeze him out of school with her death-ray stare. And Mars’s father, a powerful judge, is pressuring the district attorney to open a criminal investigation into Carver’s actions. 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 with her to share their memories and say a proper goodbye to his friend. Soon the other 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 a complete breakdown or—even worse—prison?

thanks so much to Blogging For Books for sending me a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

i love the brush/cursive font they used here!!

- this book did not sugarcoat anything. Goodbye Days was very raw and emotional, and the fact that Carver might have been responsible for the death of his friends? the book looked this in the eye.  the representation of anxiety seemed very good from what i could tell, based on other people's reviews. i've never personally had an anxiety attack though, so please do not take my word singularly. 
the rawness of the book was part of what made it so beautiful and heartbreaking though, and it's part of what made it so special.

- but, there were also lighter moments. there were jokes and other lighter moments that saved the book from being overly depressing. 

- Georgia, Carver's older sister, was totally awesome. she supported him all the way through but wasn't too gushy about it. (i have a sibling and i know what it's really like #wetwillies)

- the flashbacks. the flashbacks really let you get to know Carver and feel for him. if i hadn't had those pieces of the past, i wouldn't have cared nearly as much about the characters and the story in general. it was also nice to get to know Carver's friends, Mars, Blake, and Eli, instead of letting them be empty space-filling faces.

- Carver's Goodbye Day with Nana kind of reminded me of All the Bright Places (giving something and taking something), which was nice. i do love that book.

- SO WELL WRITTEN. honestly, the language was so beautiful. i need to pick up The Serpent King.

- romance didn't solve the problem as it does in many other books. the majority of problems in life can't be solved by teenage romance and i'm glad this book respected that. i loved the ending of the book.

and now for some things i didn't love.

- the premise of the story, Carver being responsible for his friends' death, kind of infuriated me. sure, Carver sent that text to Mars, but it was Mars who ultimately decided to read and respond to that text. everyone in the justice system was acting as if Mars had no choice but to respond to the text. (i do understand Carver's guilt though)

what was even worse was the fact that the Judge (Mars's Dad) went along with this also and tormented Carver over this. he of all people should understand that it was not Carver's fault. the Judge didn't even try to accept this fact and made life so miserable for Carver.

- i would have liked a little less of the flashbacks and more of the actual present-day story.

- the humor was not my thing. i normally enjoy dry / witty humor, and this was immature / teenage boy / gross kind of humor. thanks but no thanks. i didn't really find Blake's sense of humor funny ??

- supposedly, Carver was a writer, but we didn't actually see him write anything whatsoever?? we didn't get to see any of what Carver was supposedly really good at, and i think that if we did, it would have added a lot to his character. just telling me that he loves to write isn't enough. i also would have loved to see his finished college essay at the end of the story...that would have wrapped it up nicely.(anyone else relate?)

- Carver refused to talk to his parents the whole book. and for stupid reasons it seems like. like, "oh they won't understand..." how do you know if you don't ask?

i also really like the spine.

rating: ★★★★☆

i know that my list of dislikes seems a bit long, but overall, i really enjoyed this book and how honest it was. as i said before, it didn't try to make the circumstances any more positive than they actually were which made it stand out to me.

have you read Goodbye Days or any of Zentner's other books? please leave your thoughts on The Serpent King and/or Goodbye Days!! are there any other contemporary recommendations you have for me??

xoxo, madeline


  1. I haven't read Goodbye Days, but now, reading your review, I THINK I do! I read The Serpent King a while back, and gosh it had me in a few tears, and got 5 stars from me! There was such a heavy focus on friendship in TSK, and also AMAZING characters! It was realistic, there were real problems. Zetner is an amazing writer, you need to read The Serpent King!

    1. well that settles it! i NEED TO READ The Serpent King. i've heard so many good things from everyone! I CAN'T WAIT.

  2. I read The Serpent King last month and it was so heartbreaking! I teared up a few times. XD I'm super excited to read this because the premise seems super interesting! However, it also sounds really dramatic (I get the guilt part -- but not "omg it was all Carver's fault because Mars checked a text from him and obviously that's what killed him so Carver should go to jail"). Hope you get to read TSK soon, and I'm glad you enjoyed GD!

    may @ forever and everly

    1. i hope that you enjoy the book! it was really kind of dramatic, but that didn't take too much away from the story luckily! i can't wait to read TSK!

  3. I just finished Goodbye Days as well! It looks like we had a lot of the same thoughts. Blake's humor wasn't my thing either, but I loved his monologue about why he puts himself out there that way and why laughter is so important. NANA BETSY IS MY QUEEN, AHHHH. Georgia and Carver's relationship was the actual best, and god bless that Carver didn't end up with Jesmyn. That was just so refreshing and real compared to how most YA books wrap up. Speaking of the ending, I do agree with you that I'd have loved to see his finished essay. The flashback part of the ending was nice, but the present day timeline seemed to leave off very abruptly. Awesome review and lovely photo! :)

    Ellie | On the Other Side of Reality

    1. i loved Blake's explanation about why laughter is so important! (honestly i totally forgot to put that on my list, but thank you for reminding me!) the fact that Carver and Jesmyn didn't end up together made me like the book so much better!

  4. AAAAH I HAVE SEEN THIS BOOK. The cover is really eye-catching <3

    Yes to that point about Carver! I mean, I obviously don't know him but if there are writer characters, I expect writing.

    I like how you balance your likes and dislikes! Great review per usual.

    - andrea at a surge of thunder

    1. i really like the font they used for the title <3 i really wish that we had gotten to see carver's short story, or at least his finished college essay!

      thanks for reading :)


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