Release date: March 7th 2017
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?
I haven’t read The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner but I’ve heard really amazing things so I was excited to see if this one would also be amazing. It didn’t take long to get absorbed into the story and for my eyes to start tearing up. I felt for Carver also immediately. It was a hard book to read, not because it was bad, but because the subject matter is all too real these days.
Carver was an easy character to relate to. The guilt and heartbreak and loneliness Carver felt after the accident as he struggled to grieve without three key people in his life that would normally be a huge part of his support system was so hard to read but also reflected just how close the four friends were. I loved getting to see the flashbacks to see the moments of friendship between them and it made it all that more sad when the present came back and they were gone. Carver’s journey of working through his guilt and saying goodbye to his friends was the main arc of the book and so well done.
I found it hard to get angry at any of the characters, even the ones who were unfairly blaming Carver. Everyone was grieving and looking for someone to blame. The sadness of the present was off-set nicely by the more humorous flashbacks, showing the friendship of the squad and showing just how important the four were to each other. I was so glad that Carver had people on his side in the present and those relationships were amazing as they progressed. I liked the sibling dynamic between him and his older sister, the kinship between him and Jesmyn, and Carver with Blake’s grandmother.
The book was so much more than I’d thought from the synopsis. It was a celebration of friendship, of a bond that went so deep it wouldn’t be forgotten. It was about overcoming guilt and moving on. It was about learning how to say goodbye to someone you didn’t want to say goodbye to. It was heart-breaking and heart-mending. It was brutally honest. It was all too real in a world where text messaging is such a popular way to communicate.
After this book, I will definitely be reading The Serpent King.
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.