It’s the start of 2020 and Harper is filled with anticipation about being in the final year of Riverlark Primary. She wants a leadership role, the comfort of her friendship group, and to fly under the radar of Riverlark’s mean-boy.
But one by one things go wrong. When Harper’s best friends are made school captains they are consumed by their roles, while her own role — library captain — is considered second-rate. Then something major throws life off course: her parents take overseas jobs as nurses in a war zone. Harper moves in with Lolly, a grandmother she barely knows — and her five pets, vast collection of old trinkets and very different expectations.
Just as Harper is getting used to Lolly, the pandemic arrives, and her goodbye year is nothing like she’d hoped it would be. Strange things are happening: she wakes in the night in odd places, fixates on an old army badge that seems to have a mind of its own, and on a visit to the school library during lockdown she’s convinced she’s seen a ghost.
Who is haunting her?
Can she get through the anxiety of the pandemic without her mum and dad? And will Harper find a way to be happy with her goodbye year?
The Goodbye Year explores all the trickiness and confusion of the end of primary school and a new stage of life that looms with all its uncertainties and possibilities.
INTERVIEWS and REVIEWS
Australian Book Lovers podcast (0:39:30)
Children’s Books Daily podcast (0:14:22)
Great Escape Books
Guardian: Children are coming of age in the pandemic – and these books are capturing the moment
One More Page podcast (0:04:05)
Sunshine House podcast (opens in iTunes)
Words and Nerds podcast
Your Kid’s Next Read podcast (0:11:04)
‘Timely and vivid, this brilliant book is a warm hug, a rustle of autumn leaves and the last day of term all rolled into one. I loved every minute spent with Harper, her friends, her sometimes-prickly gran, Lolly, her persistent ghost and her dear little trench dog, Hector.’
‘A time capsule with a dash of mystery, The Goodbye Year encourages kids to be hopeful and brave.I loved it.’
‘A sweet, gentle story about friendship, family…making sense of your world when everything is changing…discovering the past and noticing its connection to your present.’
‘The Goodbye Year is a beautifully written story that deftly weaves the challenges that Harper is faced with in 2020, into the historical challenges that confronted young people in the past…and shows that no matter what happens we can always rise to the difficulties that face us. A fantastic read for those in upper primary, especially those embarking on their own “goodbye year”.’
‘The Goodbye Year is a great coming-of-age tale that explores themes of resilience and friendship. Gale has really nailed that feeling of being on the cusp of growing up.’
‘A moving story of change and the lives of children as they leave primary school.’
‘Written so brilliantly…A book that articulates what so many young people might not be able to voice and reading this will be a beautiful healing experience for them.’
‘A deeply relatable story, with a hint of the supernatural, and a lot of heart.’
‘Harper is one of the most charming creations that has come along in children’s literature in a very long time, and her ability to notice the good in the world acts like a balm, soothing even in the most difficult of times.’
‘A moving and uplifting story.’
‘The Goodbye Year is a wonderfully written book that weaves its way through many different issues and historical moments in a very engaging and sensitive way.’
‘I recommend this fabulous story to those who are starting year 6 or soon will be.’
‘It’s hard to resist a book housing a resident ghost in the school library!…A terrific novel to use as a platform for discussing facing teen fears and living through real-life crises…There is every reason to use this novel in the classroom as a model text.’