Book Review- Goodbye Days

Monday, 15 May 2017
Title: Goodbye Days
Author: Jeff Zentner
Published: 7th March 2017
Pages: 405
Genre: YA, Contemporary

Rating: 3.5/5

What if you could spend one last day with someone you lost?
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? -Goodreads
I received a copy of this novel from Net Galley in return for an honest review.

This is the story of Carter, who is 17 when he loses his 3 best friends in a car accident that may or may not have been his fault for texting the friend who was driving. We follow Carter as he attends their funerals and deals with the aftermath of the events and the decisions he made that night. 
As this novel is written from Carter's point of view, Zentner actually does a creditable job of replicating the voice of a 17 year old, for the most part it reads fairly accurately. That being said there are sections of the text which are quite unlike a 17 year olds manner, but I just put these very pretentious passages down to Carver's past-time as a writer!!
This novel is sad; Zentner's depiction of grief is powerful and moving. The novel as a whole was quite moving and I was appreciative of Zentner's ability to give the grief its space to breath and grow in the novel. 
I also thought that Zentner's description of panic attacks and anxiety was excellent. The author got the feelings and experiences across in the narrative very well, in addition to keeping the narrative voice from Carter realistic to the experience. I appreciated this, it gave the character another layer, and its always good to read about mental health in novels, especially young adult ones. 
In terms of plot, there isn't a lot to get excited about, it is a fairly typical YA contemporary, although I was very pleased that the romance there was felt realistic, there was no sight of 'insta-love'. 
The reason I gave this novel only 3.5/5 was for a couple of insensitive jokes in the novel. At one point two of the characters made some crude suicide jokes because they are not enjoying a class in school. This is extremely insensitive from the author, and particularly because his novel had dealt with grief and mental health sensitively through the rest of it. The author also made some homophobic jokes when the characters are teasing another character, who actually turns out to be gay! As if that somehow makes it ok, it just felt unnecessary to the storyline, and frankly I was really disappointed when I read it.
Overall I gave this novel 3.5/5 stars, and I thought it was an ok depiction of grief, but it was let down by some crude and insensitive jokes in the narrative which didn't sit well with me.

Happy reading!

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