It was just another late summer day before the start of senior year at Nashville’s Academy for the Arts. Carver was eager to meet up with his best friends Mars, Blake and Eli to celebrate their end-of-summer traditions. So he sent Mars a text: “Where are you guys? Text me back.” And in an instant, his friends’ lives were over—and Carver’s was destroyed.
After all three boys are killed in a car accident caused, in all likelihood, by Mars’ attempt to text Carver a response, Carver is left with little but a series of increasingly scary panic attacks. Eli’s twin sister despises him, Mars’ powerful father threatens to press charges, and even his new friendship with Eli’s girlfriend is far from uncomplicated. When Blake’s grandma suggests that Carver join her in a “goodbye day” to share their memories of Blake, Carver wonders whether this might be an opportunity for healing or just a route to more pain.
Carver is an aspiring author, so storytelling plays a central role in his grief and recovery. Morris Award-winning author Jeff Zentner, a talented musician and songwriter, suffuses his new novel with all kinds of art forms, from Eli’s music to Mars’ illustrations to Blake’s zany but brave form of comedy. Fans of Jennifer Niven’s All the Bright Places will find much to ponder in Goodbye Days’ sensitive exploration of loss and strong sense of place.