Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner: Musical Influences

Tissues at the ready, folks! Today I’m joined by the incredible Jeff Zentner, who is one of my favourite authors writing YA at the moment. Regular readers of Writing from the Tub will know just how much I went on and on (and on!) about The Serpent King last year but today Jeff’s latest release, Goodbye Days, is what we’re going to focus on.

For today’s stop on the Goodbye Days blog tour I’m sharing one of the songs that makes up the novel’s soundtrack and I cannot imagine a piece of music that more perfectly sums up this beautiful, brutal book. You can hear grief radiating from the music and it’s powerful and haunting in a way that matches the emotions you’ll feel when you read Goodbye Days.

Cold Front by Hammock

A Note From the Author

This song is Goodbye Days to me. For starters, it’s by a Nashville band and Goodbye Days is a Nashville book. I love how profound and beautiful it sounds. It’s so powerful and sad, like a wave washing over you. Like grief itself. What’s amazing is that just listening to this song, you can feel it’s about grief and coming to terms, even if you don’t watch the elegiac, haunting video which, to my eyes, deals with grief in this beautifully abstract way. This song gives me such chills, it’s almost physically painful for me to listen to it. When you get to the end of the song, you feel exhausted, in the way of having had a good cry.

Goodbye Days Summary (from Goodreads)

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?

My Review

You know the tissue warning I gave out at the beginning of this post? Yeah, you’re going to need them when you read Goodbye Days. While I shed a few tears in The Serpent King, that was nothing compared to full on ugly crying Goodbye Days reduced me to.

There’s something magical about the way Zentner writes that transports the reader into the protagonist’s mind and that’s part of what makes Goodbye Days so effective. I could feel Carver’s guilt and pain rising up through the page and it made for an emotional, impactful reading experience. Grief is such a personal thing that I think it can be a tricky subject to get right in a novel but Zentner absolutely nails it here. It’s impossible not to think about your own loved ones and put yourself in Carver’s position while you’re reading – cue the streams of tears you’ll undoubtedly cry.

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