Parents' Guide to

Goodbye Days

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Stirring story examines power of friendship, grief, and art.

Goodbye Days Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 1 parent review

age 13+

A realistic portrayal of teen friendships and the guilt that comes with making a fatal mistake

I read this book to see if it would be OK for an all-school summer read. It does have some swearing and some scatalogical references (it's about the friendship of 4 teenage boys, so nothing that would be unexpected.) There is no sex, no drinking and no drug use, so I want to make sure that is clear. It deals with the aftermath of a texting and driving accident and I think the pain and loss are very appropriate for its message. It's a beautifully written, ultimately life-affirming book that will likely bring you to tears and then make you laugh a few pages later. I highly recommend it.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1):
Kids say (4):

Jeff Zentner once again revisits Tennessee youth, this time in cosmopolitan, diverse Nashville, for a poignant and powerful story about a teen grieving the deaths of his three best friends. The author's second young-adult offering is a beautiful exploration of the depths of grief, the power of finding your tribe, and the complicated, heartbreaking journey of forgiving yourself. From the very beginning, Carver's best friends are dead, so readers only get to know them through the flashbacks, which are in nearly every chapter. It's painful to meet these promising, talented young artists and friends, with their entire lives ahead of them and know that they are in fact gone. So it's natural that Carver is folded over inside his grief, survivor's guilt, and shame. The only person who's willing to be his friend is Jesmyn, Eli's bereaved girlfriend, and soon that relationship also becomes a burden as feelings of friendship turn into something more.

The author packs a lot into the book. Each of the Goodbye Days Carver goes on is like a sociological study in how differently grief affects people. Blake's grandmother is humble and devout; Eli's wealthy parents are outdoorsy atheists busy fighting with each other; and Mars' father is angry and so rigid he forces Carver to run miles and miles. Occasionally Carver seems a little too eloquent for his years, but these are exceptionally talented teens (and the Fame-like school mentioned really exists), and he's a writer, so it's fitting. As heartbreaking as the story can be, there's also hope and beauty and art. And for fans of The Serpent King, there's even a little cameo of our favorite indie guitarist.

Book Details

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate