Carter Briggs knows about the power of the written word. Not only can he entertain and touch his three best friends with his stories and jokes but a simple text message to them could have been a factor in the auto collision that took their lives.
Wracked with guilt and hurting from the loss of the fellow members of the Sauce Crew, Carver faces the difficult task of trying to move forward with his life. It doesn’t help that the twin sister of his one his friends and a high-powered judge and father to another friend hold Carver responsible for the death of his friends. And both want to see Carver “pay” for his actions.
Jeff Zetner’s Goodbye Days chronicles Carver’s journey to come to terms with the death of his friends and the impact it has not only on him but those around him. Carter’s witty, self-aware narration is honest, authentic and, at times, utterly raw. Zetner ably captures the conflicting emotions Carver experiences, including several panic attacks that send Carver looking for help beyond what his family and friends can offer.
Goodbye Days gets its title from the grandmother of one of Carver’s best friends. The two decide to celebrate the life of his friend with a day full of the things his friend loved doing and would have wanted to do if he’d known it was his last. As Carver spends a goodbye day with some members of each family of the former Sauce Crew, he learns a bit more about his friends and himself.
There were moments in the novel that I had a smile on my face, followed quickly by a lump in my throat as events unfold for Carver. Too many novels targeted for young adults try to include teen angst for the sake of teen angst. Carver’s angst and journey are as real and authentic as any I’ve read in a long while and this book is richer for it.
Zetner says that Goodbye Days is a love-letter to Nashville and it shows throughout the book. Filled with multiple local landmarks, part of the fun of this novel is imaging Carver and his cast of characters inhabiting those places. I may even be on the look-out for Carver working at one of my favorites used bookstores in the future.
Goodbye Days is one of those books that transcends the section of the bookstore or library where it will be shelved. It may be placed in the “young adult” section, but this is a book that you should seek out and read, regardless of age. This novel was an unexpected surprise and Carver’s voice and story is one that has lingered with me long after I turned the final page.
This one gets my highest recommendation. Put it at the top of your to-be-read pile immediately.
In the interest of full disclosure, I received an ARC of this novel as part of the Amazon Vine program .