Review: Goodbye Days

Goodbye DaysGoodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

My rating: 4 .5 of 5 stars
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I read this book in one sitting, yippee! I haven’t done this in months. Thank you, Jeff Zentner for making me feel extra bookish today. I wasn’t expecting to like this, FYI. It was a YA contemporary with a cover that didn’t appeal to me. However, the writing (which should be the only thing that matters!) was beautiful. It felt meaningful and heartfelt. I partially think because this was written from the perspective of a YA male. I think I over saturate myself with predictable heroines; it was great to see the perils of an average teen guy go through heartbreak and angst.


Carver: Carver’s our main protag. He sent a text to his friends, which lead to them texting and driving… and dying. Carver is half black and suffers from a Panic Disorder. Carver was a unique voice to read, but what I really enjoyed was his conversations with everybody else.

The 3 (Dead) Amigos; Blake, Eli, and Mars: Blake is only really noteworthy because we find out he’s gay and has a wonderful Nana. It’s the other two that impact Carver more. Eli was their emo-esque bud who dated Jesmyn. His parents were atheists (unheard of, in this largely Christian town), but he rebelled and had a bit of faith. Eli’s a bit of a shit, but it’s not him: it was how Carver portrayed him (Carver has a lot of guilt, which leads to him antagonising Eli). Finally, Mars was an artistic black guy with Captain Holt as his father. That’s pretty much it. You don’t really see who Mars was, but we do see how awful his dad is.

Jesmyn: Jesmyn is Eli’s girlfriend. Or, was. She’s extremely musical. She’s also half Philippine. And adopted. ALSO, she calls out Carver, the half black guy, for racism, sexism and homophobia. She’s a top lass. I like that she was still light-hearted whenever calling out something offensive, but she still made it clear: oi, that’s racist. Learn from your mistake. Ha-ha.

Jesmyn glaring

Nana Betsy: tbh I don’t have much to say about her. She’s a sweet old lady who was Carver’s only true friend. I found her reaction to finding out her grandson, Blake, was gay. She was still realistically baptist, but at the same time quite open for her background.

Judge Edwards: Child. Abuser. Absolute: Child Abuser. To his son, and then to Carver. As revenge. He so easily could have been arrested for torturing a minor. Dear god. What. A. Shit.

Dr. Mendez: aw man, this is my bud. I love psychs. Psychs are great. It does suck to know that you’re paying for their attention and understanding, but still: psychs are my fave to talk to. He was such a great influence on Carver. I think I would have appreciated seeing Carver struggling to find the right psych for him. Because as many of you might not know: clicking with the first and only psych you’ve ever met doesn’t usually happen. That’s my only critique, though.


We start immediately after The Accident. This entire book is Carver going through stages of grief. First, he develops a friendship with Nana Betsy. He deals with the emergence of panic attacks. He bonds with his sister, Georgia. Then he gets closer to Eli’s ex, Jesmyn. That’s a shit fight and a half. The romance was fairly cliche, and I appreciated (view spoiler). Finally, we have Carver commemorating the Goodbye Days, each dedicated to a different friend.

There’s also the subplot of Carver being suspected for manslaughter, but eh. It wasn’t a primary focus. It was more just an added stress that leads to his panic disorder. Poor guy.


This was fairly straightforward. There are about 50 chapters, and some are flashbacks of the four guys hanging out.


– Teen mortality
– Texting and driving
– Mental Illness: Panic and Anxiety Disorders
– Basically, everything found on a black and white tumblr blog


“I want to live unburdened again.”


I liked the second last chapter. I get why the last scene we see is a flashback, and I appreciate the platonic group of guys saying “I love you” to one another. But I think I would have cried (in a good way) if we saw Carver do something in the present day, like having his own mini Goodbye Day. Alone.


Hi! I’m absolutely terrified to drive. This doesn’t help. But I do really appreciate reading a male YA protagonist, who suffers Panic Disorder. Thank you for your beautiful writing, Jeff Zentner ❤️.

Author: Cal's Reading Corner

HSIE teacher from Sydney, Australia.

7 thoughts on “Review: Goodbye Days”

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