Goodbye Days

Goodbye Days
Written by Jeff Zentner

Publisher’s Summary:
Where are you guys? Text me back. That’s the last message Carver Briggs will ever send his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. He never thought that it would lead to their death.

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?

Primary Source Pairing:
The “About the Author” page at the very end of the book states, “Goodbye Days is his love letter to the city of Nashville and the talented people who populate it.” The setting of the city of Nashville is itself a character in this book. As Carver and his friends navigated the city, they grew up and found themselves. After the accident, Nashville continued to embrace Carver during his grief and help him find his new self after the tragedy.

For this primary source pairing, invite students to study a photograph of the Nashville skyline and a Nashville postcard circa 1930-1945. Use the prominent setting of this book to begin the discussion about the importance of community for the characters.

Additionally, use this opportunity to talk about the dangers of texting and driving. Share statistics and safety strategies with students or display on a bulletin board in the library or school.

Questions for Discussion:

  • Describe what you see.
  • What do you notice first?
  • What people and objects are shown?
  • How are they arranged?
  • What is the physical setting?
  • What, if any, words do you see?
  • What other details can you see?
  • How was the setting important to the plot in Goodbye Days?
  • How would the story be different if the setting was somewhere else?

Book Cover and Summary: Follett
Skyline, Nashville, Tennessee: Photograph by Carol M. Highsmith, Library of Congress
Greetings from Nashville, Tennessee postcard: Boston Public Library Tichnor Brothers collection, Wikimedia

Additional Resources:
100 Distracted Driving Facts and Statistics 2018: TeenSafe
Jeff Zentner website: