Carver Briggs is an American youth of seventeen. He has three friends, Eli Bauer, Thurgood Edwards known as Mars, and Blake Lloyd. His three friends are to pick Carver up at the library where he works. But they are late. Carver sends a text to find out where his friends are. The three die in a fatal car crash. The police find a half composed message on Mars’s phone. Was he texting Carver as he drove the car? Was Carver at fault for texting him when he knew Mars would be at the wheel of his car?
The rest of Zentner’s novel deals with the aftermath of tragedy. Carver must learn to cope with his grief and maintain his life. Members of the three bereaved families can help or hinder this process. Some help comes in unexpected and dramatic form. The book delivers for the reader with searing honesty in respect of loss, grief and guilt. The detail of the process after the accident is utterly realistic. Many novels for young readers have a lethal motor crash as their narrative climax, leaving the reader to wonder how survivors might cope. Zentner takes the crash as his starting point, an unusual approach.
There is however one serious flaw in the credibility of the book. Carver has some sessions with a psychotherapist, Dr Mendez. The therapist talks very openly about his own feelings, which professional counsellors very rarely do, striking an unconvincing note.