by Zentner, Jeff
School Library Journal Gr 9 Up-It was just a text: Carver wanted to know when his three best friends were going to pick him up. But those three best friends got into a car accident and never made it to him. Carver can't stop blaming himself and his text for their deaths, and things get worse after a judge is also interested in pointing the finger at him. Carver juggles his own feelings of guilt and the blame others direct at him as he decides to honor the memory of his friends through cathartic "goodbye days." Saving Carver (and the readers) from complete despair is Jesmyn, the former girlfriend of one of his deceased friends, and Dr. Mendez, a new therapist who help him wade through life after the funerals. Zentner is yanking heartstrings here in this painful but compelling narrative. Although sprinkled with lighter stories of the friends in happier times, this is a weighty, well-crafted novel-the kind of intelligent, intense, and life-affirming tale that will resonate with teens seeking depth and honesty. VERDICT Recommended as a first purchase for school and public libraries. Hand this to readers looking to explore the somber and complex realities of life, especially responsibility, fractured relationships, and the butterfly effect of consequences.-Emily Moore, Camden County Library System, NJ © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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Book list *Starred Review* I may have killed my three best friends, 17-year-old Carver agonizes. How so? He sent a text to his friend Mars, knowing the boy was driving at the time; distracted by replying to the text, Mars crashed into a stopped truck, killing himself and Carver's two other best friends, Blake and Eli. Now Mars' father, a judge, has called on the district attorney to open an investigation and weigh charges of criminally negligent homicide against Carver. Bereft and virtually friendless, riddled by guilt, and overwhelmed by stress, Carver begins having panic attacks, which send him into therapy. Interestingly, he makes an unlikely new friend in Eli's girlfriend, Jesmyn, but when he tells her that he desires more than friendship with her, she rejects him. Meanwhile, Carver's attempts at atonement with Blake's grandmother, Eli's parents, and Mars' father meet with mixed success, feeding his subconscious desire for punishment. Zentner does an excellent job in creating empathetic characters, especially his protagonist Carver, a budding writer whose first-person account of his plight is artful evidence of his talent. The story builds suspense while developing not only empathetic but also multidimensional characters in both Carver and Jesmyn. The result is an absorbing effort with emotional and psychological integrity.--Cart, Michael Copyright 2016 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publishers Weekly Carver Briggs already feels responsible when his three best friends are killed in a car accident after he sent a "Where are you guys?" text message to the driver. Now it seems as though the whole town wants him to be prosecuted, and he's having debilitating panic attacks. When one friend's grandmother suggests they pay tribute to the deceased by spending a "goodbye day" swapping stories and doing what he loved, Carver finds a cathartic way to atone for his perceived sins. From the opening line, Zentner (The Serpent King) expertly channels Carver's distinctive voice as a 17-year-old writer turned "funeral expert" who argues with himself about girls and retains glimmers of easy wit despite the weight of his grief and guilt. Flashbacks and daydreams capture the jovial spirit of the four members of the so-called Sauce Crew, glimpses of sophomore shenanigans interspersed with poignant admissions only best friends would share. Racial tensions, spoiled reputations, and broken homes all play roles in an often raw meditation on grief and the futility of entertaining what-ifs when faced with awful, irreversible events. Ages 14-up. Agent: Charlie Olsen, Inkwell Management. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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