Goodbye Days is the first of Jeff Zentner books that I read and I must confess to intially being in two minds about it after reading the blurb. The concept of an everyday, common action (sending a text message) being classified as a crime was highly intriguing (because it reminded me about the Michelle Carter case) however the idea of ‘Goodbye Days’ to remember loved ones creeped me out just a little. I was wrong, it wasn’t creepy at all.
‘For the most part, you don’t hold the people you love in your heart because they rescued you from drowning or pulled you from a burning house. Mostly you hold them in your heart because they save you, in a million quiet and perfect ways, from being alone.
When rereading the books I’m writing reviews on, I spend the entire time looking for extracts that I want to quote. Some books I find it really hard to find that one paragraph which sums up the beauty and theme of the novel and some are really easy. Goodbye Days was the hardest thus far, as it is exquisitely written without being garden centre gift sickening (do you know what I mean?) so there was simply too much to choose from.
The Serpent King is Jeff Zenter’s award winning debut novel, for a very good reason. It follows the lives of three friends in rural Tennessee during their senior (final) year of high school. Lydia is a successful blogger dreaming of attending college in New York. Dill is struggling with his deeply religious father’s crimes which landed him in prison and the family in thousands of dollars in debt.
‘He walked through his days like an apparition. The act of living felt wrong and harsh and uncomfortable. Nails on a chalkboard. A machine running without oil. Gears grinding and gnashing on each other, breaking teeth, disintegrating. Burning up. Wearing out.’
Travis is a gentle giant working in his family’s lumberyard, while day-dreaming about his favourite fantasy novel. Following a tragic murder Dill’s mental health deteriorates and Lydia struggles to bring her best friend back from the darkness.
Michelle Carter was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter of her boyfriend Conrad Roy, following his suicide in 2014. She knew his intentions and ecouraged him to end his life.