In his debut novel, The Serpent King, author Jeff Zentner staked his claim on the world of young adult literature as an author who can tackle heartbreaking subjects with humor and hope. In his forthcoming second book, Goodbye Days, he'll use that talent to craft a tale about a teen's struggle to move on after the loss of his best friends.
Carver Briggs, a talented writer at the Nashville Academy for the Arts high school, might be responsible for the death of his three best friends: Mars, Eli, and Blake. In fact, he can't stop blaming himself for sending the text that caused their crash. Everyone else blames him, too, and he may even be under criminal investigation for sending the fatal text.
But a few people are on Carver's side, including Blake's grandmother, who asks him to stand in for Blake in a "Goodbye Day": a chance to do all of their favorite things, so they can say a proper goodbye. When Mars and Eli's families learn of the Goodbye Day, they want Carver to participate in one with them as well. But will these Goodbye Days help Carver move past his own grief and guilt?
"In writing Goodbye Days, I wanted to do several things," Jeff Zentner tells Bustle. "I wanted to write a story in which it was unclear who was in the right and where the calculus of blame and guilt is difficult. I wanted to write a book about the power of story and the way our lives are stories. I wanted to write a story about a young person trying to make sense of finality and trying to carry on and start anew in the wake of an unthinkable loss."
"I wanted to write a story about a young person trying to make sense of finality and trying to carry on and start anew in the wake of an unthinkable loss."
Zentner is no stranger to weighty subjects. His debut novel, The Serpent King , was a haunting coming-of-age tale that brought more than one reader (this one included) to tears. Though The Serpent King was a standalone novel, fans of Dill, Lydia, and Travis's tale may find a special surprise in Zentner's new book. "I wanted to let those who were interested have one final, brief visit with someone they got to know in The Serpent King," Zentner says. "For the sharp-eyed reader, there will be an epilogue of sorts."
If that isn't enough to get you excited for this novel, maybe the cover will spark your enthusiasm. Bustle is proud to present the cover for Goodbye Days , available March 7, 2017 from Crown Books for Young Readers:
A text bubble has never seemed quite so ominous.
Images: Jamie Hernandez