Tag Archives: Crown Books for Young Readers

Review: Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

Goodbye DaysGoodbye Days
Jeff Zentner
Crown Books for Young Readers
Published March 7, 2017

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

From Goodreads
One day Carver Briggs had it all—three best friends, a supportive family, and a reputation as a talented writer at his high school, Nashville Academy for the Arts.

The next day he lost it all when he sent a simple text to his friend Mars, right before Mars, Eli, and Blake were killed in a car crash.

Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident, and he’s not the only one. Eli’s twin sister is trying to freeze him out of school with her death-ray stare. And Mars’s father, a powerful judge, is pressuring the district attorney to open a criminal investigation into Carver’s actions.

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 with her to share their memories and say a proper goodbye to his friend.

Soon the other families are asking for a 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?

My Review
I was super nervous about reading this book for two reasons. One is I’ve seen so many great reviews of this book. Which is awesome! Just a little more pressure as a reviewer. I want to bring something to the table that hasn’t already been said a million times and also it can sometimes feel like pressure to really like a book that everyone else finds so moving.

I was also nervous for a really weird reason. My own manuscript features a guitarist named Eli. Okay, that’s not so weird. He’s also dating an adopted Asian girl. And he gets into a serious car accident. Believe it or not, this has kind of happened before. I read a book about two brothers, one named Eli, who get into a car accident, and just like in Goodbye Days, Eli dies. For some reason, that story hit really deep. I had a really hard time reading it, not because the story was bad, but because it snowballed into something like a crisis of confidence for me. Which was not cool. But anyway. None of that has to do with how I felt reading Goodbye Days other than to give you some background.

Goodbye Days is, more than anything else, an emotional journey. There’s not much in terms of big, intense plot. It’s a lot more subtle, gentle movement through a boy’s incredible grief when he suddenly loses all three of his best friends and faces his fear that their deaths might be his fault.

I think often grief doesn’t get enough appreciation in our instant-gratification culture. Grief is hard. It’s unpleasant, uncomfortable—not only to the person experiencing it, but to the people around them. Goodbye Days paid a worthy homage to the difficult journey of suffering and loss while still showing the value of having loved in the first place and the hope that lights the end of the dark tunnel of grief.

There were a couple of plot elements that I struggled to buy into. At one point, local police open an investigation into the accident, warning Carver that he may face charges for his friends’ deaths. I have no idea whether or not this could actually happen, but I had a really hard time going there in the story. Why wasn’t anyone blaming the kid who responded to a text message while driving? No one ever points a finger at him or talks about how he should have passed the phone to a friend to respond or something. Everyone focuses on Carver’s guilt for sending the text message to begin with.

On the other side, I loved how each of his friends had a really different artistic talent, and that they weren’t all conventional talents. One boy is a comic artist. Another is a YouTube sensation who uses videos to challenge social ideas in a humorous way.

Goodbye Days is a thoughtful, emotional story. If you liked Away We Go by Emil Ostrovski or Me Since You by Laura Weiss, you should add Goodbye Days to your list.

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

Cultural Elements
Carver’s best friend Mars is from an affluent black family. His father, a local judge, holds Mars to very high standards, and at one point talks about how difficult it is in our country for young black men. One mistake, he explains, can ruin a man’s life. Carver’s best friend Blake is gay, but hasn’t told anyone else before his death.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used liberally. Also some crude language. Blake’s videos often feature some flatulence, and there’s quite a bit of chat about them.

Romance/Sexual Content
Carver begins to have feelings for a girl and experiences some arousal. It’s brief, and pretty discreet.

Spiritual Content
One of Carver’s friend’s parents are atheists, and after their son’s death, Carver tells them that Eli wondered about the existence of God. There’s some discussion about whether that would make him a theist or agnostic. His parents seem uncomfortable with those ideas.

Violent Content

Drug Content
Blake’s mother, whom he does not live with, is a drug addict. Carver learns some snippets about what his life was like when he did live with her. Carver’s sister mentions that and her friends drank vodka in her bedroom.

Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Author Interview and Giveaway with Cat Clarke

Author Cat Clarke is here today to talk about what inspired her novel The Lost and the Found, a story about a girl abducted as a child who returns home thirteen years later. Stick around for the interview and then enter the giveaway for a chance to win one of three copies of The Lost and the Found. To start us off, here’s some more about the story:

The Lost and the Found
Cat Clarke
Crown Books for Young Readers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


When six-year-old Laurel Logan was abducted, the only witness was her younger sister. Faith’s childhood was dominated by Laurel’s disappearance – from her parents’ broken marriage and the constant media attention to dealing with so-called friends who only ever wanted to talk about her sister.


Thirteen years later, a young woman is found in the garden of the Logans’ old house, disorientated and clutching the teddy bear Laurel was last seen with. Laurel is home at last, safe and sound. Faith always dreamed of getting her sister back, without ever truly believing it would happen. But a disturbing series of events leaves Faith increasingly isolated and paranoid, and before long she begins to wonder if everything that’s lost can be found again…

Author Interview with Cat Clarke

Was there a particular case or event that inspired you to write The Lost and the Found?

The inspiration for The Lost and the Found actually came from a documentary. Unfortunately I can’t tell you the name of it as it would be a little spoiler-y! It was more of a jumping off point, really – the book isn’t based on the same case that was explored in the documentary. The subject of missing children is one that’s interested me for a long time, particularly in relation to the siblings who are left behind, and how it impacts on their childhood.

Totally understand. No spoilers allowed! Writing about the sibling perspective definitely intrigues me. Do you have a favorite character in the story? Were there things about him or her which couldn’t be included in The Lost and the Found?

I do! Michel is my absolute favourite. He is my main character’s confidante and (sort of) step-father. He’s a French veterinarian, who likes to bake and has a cat called Tonks. There’s so much more I would have liked to have included about Michel – I could probably write a whole novel about him! But I had to rein in my desire to write more about him, and just keep to what was relevant to Faith’s story.

He sounds like an incredibly fun character. Also, I have to say you have the best cat names ever, even in imaginary cats! That’s fantastic. Is there a scene or moment in your novel that really sticks with you? Can you tell us a little bit about it?

I tend to forget almost everything about my books as soon as I finish editing them. I actually have to refer back to them when I get asked even fairly basic questions! Still, there’s one section of The Lost and the Found that has stuck with me: the last couple of paragraphs. And that’s not just because of the huge (HUGE!) relief at reaching the end of the story… honestly. 🙂 It’s because I hadn’t exactly planned how the very end was going to play out, and while I was writing it, I was hit with this devastating idea that made me think differently about the whole story. So of course I went ahead and added it, and it felt like exactly the right ending for Faith’s story. It’s the kind of thing I could never plan – I just had to write my way slowly towards it, if that makes sense!

It does make sense, and it’s awesome. I think that’s my favorite part of the novel-process– all the things discovered in the writing of it. The Lost and the Found reminds me a little bit of Tension of Opposites by Kristina McBride, in which a girl returns home after having been kidnapped, and her former best friend tries to reconnect with her. It also sounds like you’ve taken your novel in a different direction. Can you talk a little about what makes this story different than some of the others? (I’m thinking The Face on the Milk Carton or The Deep End of the Ocean, that sort of thing?)

This is tricky, because I haven’t read these books – but now I’m going to! When I had the idea for The Lost and the Found I deliberately avoided any fiction that might have any slight similarities. I immersed myself in non-fiction instead. I find it hard to read any type of fiction when I’m writing. Writers often worry when they realize there are other books out there on the same subject matter as theirs, but the truth is that there are no truly new ideas – just different ways of exploring them.

Ha! Sorry about that. It makes sense to avoid books with similar themes. I’ll be curious to read and compare for myself, too. What do you most hope that readers take away from The Lost and the Found?

My primary goal is always to tell a story, and to do justice to that story. If readers take something from it, that’s wonderful, but I try to steer clear of having some sort of message I want to get across. I’m always delighted to get emails from readers telling me their thoughts on my books. They are usually far more insightful than I am!
What is one question about your novel you are often asked by readers?
It’s a question about the ending of Undone, and I get asked A LOT. It’s basically ‘WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?!’ and I always feel guilty that I can’t provide a better answer than ‘I guess that’s up to you!’ It’s one of the things I love most about fiction – that characters can live on in your head long after you’ve turned the final page.

About Cat Clarke

Web Site | Twitter

Cat was born in Zambia and brought up in Edinburgh and Yorkshire, which has given her an accent that tends to confuse people.

Cat has written non-fiction books about exciting things like cowboys, sharks and pirates, and now writes YA novels. She lives in Edinburgh with a couple of cats, Jem and Scout, who spend their days plotting to spit up furballs at the most inconvenient times. She likes cheese A LOT, especially baked camembert.

Enter to Win a Copy of The Lost and the Found by Cat Clarke (US Only)

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Check out the Other Stops on the Tour

Week 1:
9/12: Such A Novel Idea – Review
9/13: The Story Sanctuary – Q&A (you are here!)
9/14: Avid Reader – Review
9/15: Who RU Blog – Novel Secrets
9/16: Novel Ink – Review

Week 2:
9/19: Here’s the Happy Endings – Guest Post
9/20: Blue Books and Butterflies – Review
9/21: Take Me Away to a Great Read – Mood Board
9/22: Quest Reviews – Review
9/23: Curling Up With A Good Book – Top 10


Review: On a Clear Day by Walter Dean Myers

On a Clear Day
Walter Dean Myers
Crown Books for Young Readers
Published: September 23, 2014

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Since her mother’s death, Dahlia has simply survived. On her own in a rundown apartment, she waits for a way to make her life mean more. Then two boys offer her a chance to make a difference. She joins other teen prodigies in brainstorming a strategy to take down C-8, a group of corporations that have the world in a stranglehold. But just as Dahlia and her team stumble onto something big, a big-shot terrorist comes to town. The team knows he must be stopped, but taking him on might simply be playing into the bigger plans of C-8.

I requested an ARC for this book via NetGalley but didn’t get it. Based on the description posted there and on Goodreads, I thought this story would be more like X-Men teens meets The Net (1995, Sandra Bullock, etc.) Now that I’ve read the story, I get where the blurb was going, but I’m not sure it’s the best representation of the tale itself. I wonder if revealing the fact that the narrator is a girl was thought to be off-putting to potential male readership? Pure speculation.

What I liked about the story was that it pulled a lot of different elements together. The cast of characters shows a lot of racial diversity and delivers it with authenticity. In the same way, the team Dahlia joins also shows a lot of intellectual diversity, showcasing different areas of expertise and how they bring a unique perspective to each problem the group faces. To me this also echoed the same message of value and equality about the characters’ ethnic backgrounds: we all bring value. We may not agree on things, but in order to succeed at saving the world, we have to work together and trust each other.

I expected a lot of fast-paced action and suspense, and there was definitely tension building as the story unfolded, but this is more about unique teens dialoguing together over a plan to stop the bad guys from running the show. They do make progress, but not in the ways they necessarily expected, and ultimately, they don’t accomplish their goal. I think I would have liked this book more if there had been a stronger forward push carrying the story along. The group assembles with a vague goal in mind, which keeps things a bit wishy-washy until well into the tale.

This is the first book by Myers that I’ve read, and most of the reviews I skimmed through recommend his other books over this one. Monster has been on my list for a long time, so it’s possible I’ll give that one a read and reevaluate this story again.

Language Content
Strong profanity used with moderate frequency.

Sexual Content
One reference to a man putting his hand between a waitress’s legs. It’s inappropriate and another man calls him out for it.

Spiritual Content
A priest oversees a funeral. Hard times have fallen on humanity and many have died from lost hope. Dahlia makes a comment about having craved her own death before out of a simple desire to “move to the next plane” of existence.

Groups of vigilantes and terrorists wreak havoc on the population. Dahlia’s team goes head to head with a terrorist group, exchanging fire with them. Resulting deaths and injuries are briefly described. Some soldiers are children. In one instance, a boy is caught in razor wire. Dahlia and her friends watch helplessly as the wire kills him.

Drug Content
A girl in her early twenties drinks a glass of white wine at a café. At a meeting with gang leaders, someone passes marijuana to Dahlia, who refuses to smoke it. Then a woman uses a needle to inject drugs in front of Dahlia.