I’m not sure that anything I say can do justice to this poignant and heart-breaking book. I’ll assume you’ve already read the synopsis. So you’re probably wondering, “Will this book make me cry?” Yes. Yes it will. Will it have you ugly sobbing for pages on end? Probably. Will it take you on a beautiful, heartfelt journey that explores grief, loss, and learning to live when those you live aren’t living? YES.
When Carver finds out that his three best friends were killed in a car accident that may have been caused because the driver was responding to a text he sent them, his whole world crumbles. What would you do if you lost three of the most important people in your life in one go? What more, how would you deal with the overwhelming sense that it’s your fault for sending the text they may have killed them? How do you learn to live when all you feel is guilt and sorrow?
These are some of the very difficult questions that Jeff Zentner addresses in Goodbye Days. At first, I had a huge problem with the premise of this book. Like, how the heck is it Carter’s fault that his friend chose to text while driving? But once I started reading it, everything came together and I felt like I was stepping into Carver’s shoes, which allowed me to really see things from his point of view. Once that happened, I found myself being drawn deeper and deeper into the story, and by the end everything made perfect sense to me.
There are definitely moments of this book where I wanted to throw it across the room because a character was doing something I felt was just freaking ridiculous – How could Carver’s friends’ parents treat him that way? I mean, he was BEST FRIENDS with their sons? How is this even possible that they would want to prosecute him for an accident?!?! What the heck?? Thoughts like that. But at the same time, nothing in this book feels unrealistic. The characters do some crazy things, but, then again, grief makes you crazy. By the end, I felt for every single one of them, even the people I didn’t really like in the beginning.
In short, I devoured this book, and it left me aching and hungry for more. You will never look at texting and driving the same way again. Goodbye Days changed my life. I will seriously never forget this book or the lessons I learned from it. Carver’s struggle was my struggle. I was there with him, feeling what he felt and experiencing what he experienced. I cried with him. I laughed with him. I tried to look towards a brighter future with him. And somehow, just somehow, we both managed to find one.
Rating: 5+/5 stars