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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

Goodbye Days is the second novel from Morris Award winning author, Jeff Zentner.  It tells the story of a young man, Carver Briggs, as he deals with the death of his three best friends.  A death he may have caused by sending the driver a text, knowing he would respond.  As time moves on, Carver ends up spending one last day with each of the families remembering their lost loved one, a "goodbye day."  Each of these days is wildly different from the last as Carver helps the families to understand the side of their child that they did not know.  In doing so, Carver learns about his own role in the accident and how he needs to introduce himself to his own parents before it's too late.

Goodbye Days was an emotional and deeply moving read about dealing with grief and learning to live.  It is a book that I would definitely recommend. 

From Amazon:

“Gorgeous, heartbreaking, and ultimately life-affirming,” says Nicola Yoon, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Everything, Everything and The Sun Is Also A Star, of this novel about finding strength and hope after tragedy. Perfect for fans of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl and Looking for Alaska and for readers of author Jeff Zentner's own The Serpent King, one of the most highly acclaimed YA debuts of 2016.

Carver Briggs never thought a simple text would cause a fatal crash, killing his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. But 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?

"Jeff Zentner, you perfectly fill the John-Green-sized hole in our heart." —Justine Magazine

“Evocative, heartbreaking, and beautifully written." Buzzfeed

"Masterful." —

“One of the most stunningly heartfelt, lump-in-your-throat novels I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. Hold on to your heart: this book will wreck you, fix you, and most definitely change you.” —Becky Albertalli, author of Morris Award winner Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Tender, honest, moving, and lyrical. His characters live and breathe. Ahh, lucky me. Lucky us. Zentner is the real thing.” Benjamin Alire Sáenz, winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and Printz Honor winning author of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Monday, March 6, 2017

Spontaneous by Aaron Starmer

Spontaneous by Aaron Starmer was an enjoyable read.  When you look at the premise of this book, high school kids spontaneously blowing up for no good reason, it's hard to imagine it being funny or heart-warming.  But that's just what this is.  Our narrator, Mara, is a kid who is trying to figure out her place in all of the chaos.  She gives us an honest assessment of all the carnage in her world, while at the same time trying to figure out what her future holds. 

And what does she discover?  She learns something that we should all remember in our daily lives: go out and live!  None of know when our time is coming to an end, so why sit around waiting for that moment.  As Mara puts it near the end, "Of course, I know it's impossible to say with any certainty what comes next.  I could die in a few minutes.  Hell, so could you.  Leaving a whole lot of "if only" in our wakes."  Enough of these "if only" moments.  It's time to go out there and live. 

From Amazon:

"Aaron Starmer skillfully welds sharp humor, deep loss, and roaring escapades. Truly the smartest and funniest book about spontaneous combustion you will ever read." —John Green, #1 bestselling author of The Fault In Our StarsTIME magazine Top 10 YA & Children's Book of 2016!
An ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults selection
With all the perfectly lovely young adult novels out there, you decided to check this one out? It’s got spontaneously combusting teenagers in it, dude. Not the slow burning type either. We’re talking the randomly exploding variety. Seniors in high school just walking along, heading to class, whistling Beyoncé, when—WA-BAM!— they’re suddenly dripping off the lockers.

Is that really something you’re into?

Confession: I’m actually kinda into that too. So, now that we’ve established we’re both thoroughly weird and, I assume, thoroughly open-minded, we can give it shot, right? Let’s at least read the opening chapters of this bad-boy and see if it features some of the more intriguing elements such as...

-       Exploding teenagers (obviously).
-       Hallucinogenic mushrooms.
-       Pyromaniacal boyfriends.
-       Triplet toddlers in powder blue suits.
-       Amur leopards and doomsday preppers.
-       A foul-mouthed female POTUS.
-       Ashtanga yoga.
-       ­Youtube sensations.
-       Self-driving Priuses.
-       Rogue FBI agents.
-       Mad scientists.
-       Homecoming.
-       Spring break.
-       Prom.
-       And … Jennifer Lawrence.

Notice how I put Jennifer Lawrence last. She’s in the book, so it’s not cheating. And hey, if it takes America’s most beloved movie star to sell this thing, then that’s what it takes.

So, in closing: Jennifer Lawrence.

"Wildly inventive." — Entertainment Weekly "Must List"

"This comically surreal novel that will blow your mind.”— People Magazine

★ "A blood-soaked, laugh-filled, tear-drenched, endlessly compelling read." — Kirkus, starred review

★ "A wholly original YA tale of identity, friendship, love, lust, and gory, grisly death." — SLJ, starred review

"Bursting with heartache and gore, Mara’s narration appeals directly to readers’
senses of horror and humor." — Horn Book