Fourth Grade Journey

A Fourth Grade Teacher's Journey Through the World of Books

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

How I Heard About It:  After Donalyn Miller tweeted about The Serpent King, I read the book and absolutely fell in love with the story.  I actually had the honor of interviewing Jeff for my blog feature called "The Inside Look".  Even as people were reading and raving about his first novel, buzz began about the upcoming novel.  I wasn't sure if I would be able to get my hands on the ARC, but because of my buddy Scott Fillner; I was lucky enough to borrow an ARC of it.  

What It Is About:  Where to start?  How to describe the story?  In some ways I don't even want to summarize the plot because I think it is a magical experience to read it without any knowledge of the premise.  When you open the pages you meet Carver Briggs who is about to begin his senior year.  Before he can do that, he must attend the funerals of his three best friends.  Carver blames himself for their deaths, as do others, and isn't quite sure how to continue on with his own life.  The school year begins and he forms a friendship with the girlfriend of one of the friends that died.  They each have experienced a profound loss and begin to find some comfort in the friendship.  Carver's life gets messy, when the court system and law enforcement agencies begin to investigate what truly happened to his three best buddies.  All three families of Carver's friends reach out to him in different ways (goodbye days) to begin to heal and find some way to find closure to this horrific and heart-breaking event.  I've said too much, but just know there is so much more to this story of heartache, survival, and moving forward.  

What I Thought Of It:  I say with all honesty this was the best reading experience I've had in a long time.  As soon as I began page one, I could not stop reading and finished the 400-page novel in two nights.  I would have continued the first night, but knew I had to get up the next morning to spend the day with my twenty-six fourth graders.  I have never read a story like this.  I have never met a character like Carver.  I have never felt the emotions I felt while reading.  It isn't easy to admit as a man, but I literally had tears in my eyes and rolling down my cheek on several occasions.  The chapter on the "goodbye day" with the grandmother almost did me in.  I felt like I was right there with Carver and Nana and was experiencing everything with them.  Everything about this novel was an A+++.  I'm not doing this story justice.  It is such a difficult task to put my thoughts, emotions, and ideas about this story into words.  

Who Should Read It:  Every high school student should read this book.  Every adult reader should experience this novel.  If you are a fan of Jeff's first book, The Serpent King, then you need to put this book on your TBR list and get it as soon as it comes out in March of 2017.  I know I will be buying my own copy and rereading it.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  5+ STARS out of 5 Stars

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