We often tell 6th graders who have done something really stupid, that this is the time in their life when they can make mistakes and truly learn from them, never repeat them. We let them know that, when they are older, the consequences of their actions will be more severe. We say this when they turn in a friends work as their own and mess around in the bathrooms. We have really good kids.
But sometimes, really good kids make tragic mistakes, and it adults don’t tell them this is their chance to learn, they want them punished.
That is the premise of Jeff Zentner’s second novel, Goodbye Days.
Publisher’s Summary:What if you did something so terrible that it literally steals your breath away?
Something you wish you could take back every waking minute of your life. Something everyone is guilty of doing at one time or another—but this time, it destroyed life as you knew it forever.
“I would tell you that I definitely killed my three best friends. Here’s the cruel irony for the writer I am: I wrote them out of existence.
Where are you guys? Text me back.”
Carver Briggs never thought a simple text would cause a fatal crash, killing his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. But now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident and even worse, a powerful judge is pressuring the district attorney to open up a criminal investigation.
Luckily, Carver has some unexpected allies: Eli’s girlfriend, the only person to stand by him at school; Dr. Mendez, his new therapist; and Blake’s grandmother, who asks Carver to spend a “goodbye day” together to share their memories and say a proper farewell.
Soon the other families are asking for their own goodbye day with Carver—but he’s unsure of their motives. Will they all be able to make peace with their losses, or will these goodbye days bring Carver one step closer to a complete breakdown or—even worse—prison?
Although intended for a slightly older audience, this is a YA novel that I can easily put on my 6th grade shelf. There is a little romance, but the book is intelligent and heart-breaking.