Jeff Zentner Bookish Universe

Jeff Zentner released his latest novel, In the Wild Light, this week! If you haven’t read any of his books – be warned that there might be tears (grab a box of tissues) – and get ready to dive into the Jeff Zentner Bookish Universe:

Goodbye Days
By Jeff Zentner
432 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780735263130 | Penguin Teen Canada
What would you say if you could spend one last day with someone you lost? 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 it all crashed and burned, literally, after he wrote them out of existence with an inane text sent to his friend Mars – the last words his friends ever see. Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the fatal crash and he’s not the only one. Eli’s twin sister is trying to freeze him out of school with her death-ray stare. Even worse, Mars’s father, a powerful judge, pressures the district attorney to open a criminal investigation into Carver’s actions. But Carver has some unexpected allies: Eli’s girlfriend, who is the only person to stand by him at school, and Blake’s grandmother, who asks Carver to spend a Goodbye Day with her – having him stand in as Blake for one last day doing all their favorite things so they can share memories and say a proper goodbye. Soon Eli and Mars’s 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 prison or a complete breakdown?

In the Wild Light
By Jeff Zentner
384 Pages | Ages 14+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735263055 | Penguin Teen Canada
Life in a small Appalachian town is not easy. Cash lost his mother to an opioid addiction and his Papaw is dying slowly from emphysema. Dodging drug dealers and watching out for his best friend, Delaney, is second nature. He’s been spending his summer mowing lawns while she works at Dairy Queen. But when Delaney manages to secure both of them full rides to an elite prep school in Connecticut, Cash will have to grapple with his need to protect and love Delaney, and his love for the grandparents who saved him and the town he has to leave behind. Jeff Zentner’s new novel is a beautiful examination of grief, found family, and young love.

Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee
By Jeff Zentner
384 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780735263123 | Penguin Teen Canada
High school seniors and best friends Delia and Josie are two of the brightest stars on TV . . . TV Six, that is, the premiere public access cable station of Jackson, Tennessee. Every Saturday night the duo slip into their on-screen personas, Rayne Ravenscroft and Delilah Darkwood, to host the Midnite Matinee – an enthusiastic, if underwatched, creature feature that brings back the best, the bizarre and the usually zero-budget horror and sci-fi flicks of the 1950s and 60s. But with the end of senior year quickly approaching, the girls must face tough decisions about their futures. For Josie, that probably means leaving town for a big university, and chasing her dream career in mainstream TV. If only she didn’t have to leave the show – and Delia – behind to get the life she wants. But the future isn’t the only thing Josie feels guilty about. Soon she begins falling for the charismatic MMA fighter, Lawson, and her commitment to the show and Delia is pushed to its limits. As the line between growing up and growing apart blurs, Josie and Delia must test the bonds of friendship and learn that an uncertain future can be both monstrous . . . and momentous.

The Serpent King
By Jeff Zentner
384 Pages | Ages 14+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780735263581 | Penguin Teen Canada
Dill isn’t the most popular kid at his rural Tennessee high school. After his father fell from grace in a public scandal that reverberated throughout their small town, Dill became a target. Fortunately, his two fellow misfits and best friends, Travis and Lydia, have his back. But as they begin their senior year, Dill feels the coils of his future tightening around him. His only escapes are music and his secret feelings for Lydia – neither of which he is brave enough to share. Graduation feels more like an ending to Dill than a beginning. But even before then, he must cope with another ending – one that will rock his life to the core. In his debut novel, Jeff Zentner provides an unblinking and at times comic view of the hard realities of growing up in the Bible belt, and an intimate look at the struggles to find one’s true self in the wreckage of the past.

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