Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Audiobook Review: Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

Rating: ★★★+.5 | Release Date: 03/03/17 | Contemporary | 10 hours 45 minutes 
Where are you guys ? Text me back

17-year-old writer Carver Briggs believes in the power of words, but he never imagined a few words, written in a text, would kill his three best friends.

Goodbye Days opens with Caver at the last funeral for Sauce Crew--the nickname for his friend group. From there the book is almost a little too prescriptive as Carver has a final day with each of Sauce Crew’s family members sharing and learning about the sides of his friends he never knew. The time between the goodbye days is punctuated with some mini-plots plot about Carter facing possible manslaughter charges, therapy session  and his budding relationship with, Jesmyn, a Sauce Crew member’s girlfriend.

What strikes me most about this book is how worlds away it feels from Zenter's first book, The Serpent King. There is usually a lot of connective tissue between books by contemporary authors  but the voice, perspective, point of view and themes are completely different. While The Serpent King uses an evocative close third person for three different narrators, Goodbye Days has a singular first person voice that had a tendency to go overboard on the similes and metaphors to the point that I would forget what he was even describing.

Audiobook narrator  Micheal Crouch is already on my auto-buy list for his youthful and expressive voice. And while he did an impressive deep gravitas-filled voice for the uppity Black Judge Edwards he stumbles some with Carver’s southern accent--which straight up disappears at times.

With elegiac prose spotted with sophomoric humor, Zentner tackles loss, friendship and grief without it feeling like a very special episode about the dangers of texting and driving.*

*That said, I did think twice before messing with my phone to turn this audiobook on while I was driving.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Book Review/Audiobook Review This Is Just My Face by Gabourey Sidibe

Book Review

I generally read one non-fiction book a year and when I had the opportunity to read This Is Just My Face,  I was intrigued because I'd seen Sidibe on Empire, and  wondered what else she was up to post-Precious. If you're looking for the starry-eyed story of how she went from public housing to the red carpet, this isn't it. It's a down to earth and real story of what it's like growing up in New York City. She touches on being the daughter of a first-generation immigrant, finding roots in her Senegalese heritage, relationships, family and her job in the phone-sex industry. . . which probably sounds scandalous but the whole industry was surprising practical.

I tried to watch Precious after reading this, and even though I was watching the TV version it was still to much of a tough one for me and I didn't finish, but if people seriously think Precious and Sidibe are anything alike, they couldn't be more wrong.

Side Note :
This seems to be one in the long line of memoir written by famous thirty something actors (I'm looking at you Lena Dunham, Kevin Hart, Anna Kendrick, Diane Guerrero and Trevor Noah). Has this always been the case or is this a new trend ?

Also, I think the title of this book is a big disservice to the stories Sidibe is trying to tell. For her this is really a personal reflection and her looks aren't the main focus so why call it that ?


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