Book Review: Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

Can a text message destroy your life?

Carver Briggs never thought a simple text would cause a fatal crash, killing his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident and even worse, there could be a criminal investigation into the deaths.

Then Blake’s grandmother asks Carver to remember her grandson with a ‘goodbye day’ together. Carver has his misgivings, but he starts to help the families of his lost friends grieve with their own memorial days, along with Eli’s bereaved girlfriend Jesmyn. But not everyone is willing to forgive. Carver’s own despair and guilt threatens to pull him under into panic and anxiety as he faces punishment for his terrible mistake. Can the goodbye days really help?

Hooo boy, this was a lot heavier than I was expecting. Not even touching on the themes of culpability and guilt, anyone that has lost a friend as a teenager can relate to Carver’s grief. His grief, that comes in waves, where sometimes you forget for just a moment, is so real that it makes reading this book and relating to him so easy.

The idea of goodbye days was a perfect way to showcase that everyone grieves differently and different people need different methods and more/less time to process their grief. And some people need someone to blame. There’s a lot of nuance to the whole situation, and Zentner writes it beautifully. As much as I feel for Carver, I can also perfectly understand the reactions of Mars’ father and Eli’s sister (and even Eli’s parents). The goodbye days that Carver spends with each of them showcase each of those different reactions. Even though Carver does have to deal with his own grief and feelings of guilt, I think those days are good for him (and the reader) to sit with others’ grief and not just his own, even though it’s hard for him.

I think my favorite part of this book, though, was the focus on mental health and wellness. Carver is determined to deal with this on his own, with only his sister as his support system. But when he has a panic attack out of nowhere (as they usually happen), Georgia starts to insist that he needs more help than she can give him. After a second panic attack at school, he agrees to go see someone. As Carver makes his way through therapy and dealing with his guilt and his grief, we get a clear picture of how therapy works, and it’s not always pretty and perfect. Sometimes it’s hard and sometimes you don’t see the point. It was such a refreshing portrayal of therapy

(I was glad to see the references to The Serpent King. Good to know that Dearly is doing well for himself, though the song for his friend definitely turned on the waterworks, so thanks for that, Jeff.)

This book was heartbreaking and beautiful in the best ways, be sure to grab the tissues. 4.5 bards.

Book Review: How I Got Skinny, Famous, and Fell Madly in Love by Ken Baker

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Thick. Heavy. Big boned. Plump. Full figured. Chunky. Womanly. Large. Curvy. Plus-size. Hefty.” To sixteen-year-old Emery Jackson, these are all just euphemisms for the big “F” word—”fat.” Living on a Southern California beach with her workout fiend dad, underwear model sister, and former model mother, it is impossible for Emery not to be aware of her weight.

Emery is okay with how things are. That is, until her “momager” signs her up for Fifty Pounds to Freedom, a reality show in which Emery will have to lose fifty pounds in fifty days in order to win the million dollars that will solve her family’s financial woes. Emery is skeptical of the process, but when the pounds start to come off and the ratings skyrocket, she finds it hard to resist the adoration of her new figure and the world of fame. Emery knows that things have changed. But is it for the better?

Fact: this book is ridiculously easy to relate to.  I think that the main reason Baker’s novel is so relatable is because the main character’s voice is ridiculously sarcastic, witty, and delightfully straight forward.

On another hand, as a former sufferer of an eating disorder, this book really ended up opening a few doors that I thought were closed.  The feeling of shame about your weight, the way that mean girls could make you feel, the way society pressures you to look one way or another: these are all things that teenage girls struggle with no matter their starting weight.  This is obvious through the character of Angel as well as Emery as the story progresses.

I really appreciate Baker’s ability to make the readers feel a part of the story based on the way that Emery is almost breaking the fourth wall and talking specifically to the reader.  I also like that the story basically criticized the entire genre of reality TV, because if I’m honest, I’m not a huge fan of it since a lot of it IS staged.  Just look at the way Emery and her boyfriend’s relationship was exploited in this novel, or her relationship with her mother and father.

Either way I think that this novel could be good for fans of reality TV and those who don’t like it at all, because it really pleases both aspects.  One by including it and the other by making it abundantly clear that it can really damage the way a person (character) thinks about themselves.

I was pleasantly surprised with this novel, although I don’t totally understand why the title is so long, but to each his own.

3.5 Bards!

3.5bards

 

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Top Ten Tuesday

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted for us book blogger types by the Broke and the Bookish. They provide a topic, and all of us participants post our answers on our blogs and we hop around checking out one another’s answers! This week’s topic is:

Top Ten Characters that would be my Best friend

1. Alice from Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

2. Mac from the Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning

3. Jessica Darling from Jessica Darling Series by Megan McCafferty

4. Alyssa from Splintered by A.G. Howard

5. Dexter from This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen

6. Cath from Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

7. Finley Jayne from the Steampunk Chronicles by Kady Cross

8. Will Herondale from the Infernal Devices Trilogy by Cassandra Clare

9. Rose Tyler from the Doctor Who books by Various Authors

10. Remi from This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen

 

Who are some of your bookish best friends?

 

Top Ten Tuesday

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted for us book blogger types by the Broke and the Bookish. They provide a topic, and all of us participants post our answers on our blogs and we hop around checking out one another’s answers! This week’s topic is:

Top Ten All Time Favorite Books in Contemporary Young Adult/ New Adult

If you haven’t read any of these, please click on the title to read the Goodreads synopsis!

1. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

2. This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen

3. Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

4. Jessica Darling Series by Megan McCafferty

5. The Ivy Series by Lauren Kunze

6. The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

7. Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols

8. Finding It by Cora Carmack

9. Breaking Nova by Jessica Sorensen

10. Brooklyn Girls by Gemma Burgess

What are some of your favorite contemporary reads?

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