Jeff Zentner is one of my all-time favorite authors. He is an auto-buy author for me and I will forever be one of his biggest supporters. That is why I was super excited about his latest release. So far this man has not written a bad book. A story about the power of friendships and coming of age? Sign me up.
This was the story of Josie and Delia. They were two friends who became hosts of a public access show dedicated to campy monster movies. It was a show that aired in the middle of the night and both of these girls dressed in character – and it worked. These two characters were different but they balanced each other out. Neither had come from an easy childhood nor had easy decisions to make for their future.
Delia’s reason for starting the public access show was for her father, who abandoned her when she was young. Watching campy classic monster movies was what they shared and Delia was desperate to hold on to what little she had left of him. She was also desperate to know why he left all of those years ago. Josie enjoyed being the co-host of the show but she knew it was not something she wanted to continue to do. She had to find a way to confess to her best friend that she was going to leave but her sense of responsibility may get the better of her.
This was another brilliant and complex story that kept me turning the pages well into the night. I could not get enough of this. I had not ever read a story set around a public access show and it was just so good. It was something I had not read before so the intrigue was certainly there. I know I’m going to struggle to let you, my faithful readers, know just how great this story was. I’m going to keep pushing on so bear with me…
The story was told in alternating POV and that helped give added depth to the characters. While I loved discovering how complex the characters were, I found I connected more with Delia. I felt Josie’s character and chapters had too much focus on her budding relationship with Lawson. I don’t know why I didn’t connect to them as much and I still cannot put my finger on it. My heart went out to Delia and the way she wanted to reconnect with her father. This poor girl really wanted to know why he left because she carried guilt that she was the reason he left. That could not have been easy to carry around. Her Mom also checked out so she went through most of her teenage years on her own. I would not wish that on anyone.
This story was not all cut-and-dry about two friends who were discovering their path in life… it also dealt with mental illness and the aftermath of being abandoned by a parent. Those are never easy topics but Zentner handled and addressed them with class and grace. The topics were addressed and came to resolution but there was humor also included. I found myself giggling and laughing, which is always a bonus for me. Please know that while there was humor, it did not take away from the serious topics. In a way, it helped to address them. I’m not sure how to word that properly but it all worked. Everything worked perfectly.
Zentner hit it out of the park with his latest novel. I will always highly recommend his books to everyone. If you haven’t already read his first two novels, The Serpent King and Goodbye Days, I urge you to do that now. They probably will make you ugly cry but you don’t want to miss out on them. You need them in your life, just like you need Delia and Josie. It will make you want to call your best friend and talk about everything and nothing at the same time. Pick up your copy of this one now.
A contemporary novel about two best friends who must make tough decisions about their futures–and the TV show they host–in their senior year of high school.
Every Friday night, best friends Delia and Josie become Rayne Ravenscroft and Delilah Darkwood, hosts of the campy creature feature show Midnite Matinee on the local cable station TV Six.
But with the end of senior year quickly approaching, the girls face tough decisions about their futures. Josie has been dreading graduation, as she tries to decide whether to leave for a big university and chase her dream career in mainstream TV. And Lawson, one of the show’s guest performers, a talented MMA fighter with weaknesses for pancakes, fantasy novels, and Josie, is making her tough decision even harder.
Scary movies are the last connection Delia has to her dad, who abandoned the family years ago. If Midnite Matinee becomes a hit, maybe he’ll see it and want to be a part of her life again. And maybe Josie will stay with the show instead of leaving her behind, too.
As the tug-of-war between growing up and growing apart tests the bonds of their friendship, Josie and Delia start to realize that an uncertain future can be both monstrous…and momentous.
I adore this author and cannot wait to read his latest masterpiece.
I have been struggling with this review for months. Why? This book was so earth shattering, soul crushing, heart smashing good that I am afraid my words will not do this story justice.
Carver Briggs never thought his life was anything more than normal. Amazing friends and great family, what more could he want? Everything changed after he sent a text to one of his best friends and that might have caused a horrific car crash that ended their lives. A criminal investigation is launched to see what exactly caused the accident that ended the lives of Mars, Eli, and Blake. No matter what the outcome is, Carver has to carry the guilt that he, in fact, may be the reason for their deaths. The families are all dealing with the loss in very different ways. Then, one day, Blake’s grandmother reaches out to Carver and asks him to help her with a ‘goodbye day’ so she can say her final goodbyes to the grandson she lost. Carver is apprehensive but feels obligated to help her out. It turns out to be therapeutic for both. This gives Carver the idea to reach out to the other families to have a ‘goodbye day’ for the sons they lost. Is this really the best thing? Are all of the families willing to forgive Carver for what he might have done?
This book made me ugly cry and it caused mascara stains on my pillow case. I may send Random House and Jeff the dry cleaning bill for that, but I’m not sure yet. I do know that this book broke me in ways I didn’t know I could break. From page one my heart went out to Carver and what he was going through. I quickly became invested in all of the characters. I soon found myself wishing I was a member of the Sauce Crew. These guys just clicked on another level that let me know they truly would have been friends for life, long after high school and they scattered to the winds. This group was meant to be a unit. I always thought it would be difficult for a writer to make readers care so much about characters that are no longer living but Jeff did it effortlessly. I cared so much for the members of the Sauce Crew that the more I found out about them, the more my heart shattered. I found myself breaking apart at how much life they did not get to live or experience. Just thinking about it now is threatening to test my waterproof mascara.
This story was so beautifully written that I tore through it in no time. I was so engrossed in what was happening that I was sad when the story ended. I just wanted to keep reading Jeff’s words. By the end of this story, my heart was shattered and barely functioning, yet I was thanking Jeff for doing this to me because Carver’s journey was just so beautiful.
I really do not know how much more I can say about this story without giving it away. It is no secret that I am the biggest fan of this story and will be recommending it to everyone for a very, very long time. This is a story that will probably (hopefully?) stay with a lot of people. It is so thought provoking that I am still playing this story over and over in my head. Now I’m just rambling. That’s what great books due to me… they make me a blubbering idiot. Promise me you will pick up this book. Promise me you will buy it, borrow from the library, borrow from a friend. Whatever you need to do (except steal!) to get a copy of this story, do it.