Book: Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner
Genre: Young adult, contemporary
Awards: AML Award for Best Young Adult Novel (2017), Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Young Adult Fiction (2017)
My rating: 5/5 stars
Wow. Just, wow.
This is definitely another book that crushed my feelings. Where do I even start?
How about the opening line:
“Depending on who—sorry, whom—you ask, I may have killed my three best friends.”
If it sounds intense, that’s because it is. This book is so raw and real. I might have finished it sooner than in three days if I didn’t have to put it down and take a break.
“Our memories of our loved ones are the pearl we form around the grain of grief that causes us pain.”
Then there’s this quote:
“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.”
I could go on.
This book was beautifully heartbreaking. The main character, Carver, suffers from survivor’s guilt and anxiety, the latter of which I can relate to. I’ve read a couple of books that have protagonists who deal with anxiety, but this has to be the best one yet. I have not gone through what Carver did, but man, can I empathize with him. And did I mention he’s a writer? It was also really refreshing to read a YA novel from a male’s perspective. Honestly, I haven’t seen too many.
Then the characters are so well-written and three-dimensional and unique. Each “goodbye day” Carver experiences is different, considering the dimensions of each household. Sure, I may not have agreed with everybody’s views, but I don’t think one can. The book doesn’t shy away from religion or atheism and addresses them both head on, showing how peoples of differing beliefs might deal with grief.
I gave this book 5/5 stars for excellent character development and strong themes. Because of the language and some content, I would mark this book for those 13+. I definitely would recommend this to anybody interested in intense, contemporary YA.
Enjoy contemporary YA? If you liked Goodbye Days, you might also like Tell Me Something Real by Calla Devlin, Saving Red by Sonya Jones, Bone Gap by Laura Ruby, and Made You Up by Francesca Zappia.
Let’s chat! Have you read Goodbye Days yet? If so, what did you think? What are some of the books on your TBR for this summer? Do you have any recommendations?