The Goodbye Year


Now this is a cover I could fall in love with -- all my favourite colours, books, cats, cups of tea, trees a dog and a ghostly soldier, as well as a touch of golden spot gloss -- yum! My only tiny niggle is that Harper isn't wearing glasses... How I longed for more protagonists with glasses when I was a glum bespectacled 12 year old.

Inside the lovely cover, there is also much to enjoy inside Emily Gale's The Goodbye Year, which is perhaps my first full pandemic novel. As 2020 begins, Harper is looking forward to her final year at Riverlark Primary School, but then she's mown down by a truckload of changes. Her parents move oeverseas, leaving her with Lolly, the grandmother she barely knows; all her friends becomes school captains of something, leaving Harper with the dreggiest job, Library Captain (ahem, the best job, I think you mean.) And then Harper starts seeing things -- could there be a ghost in the old library?

I loved the parallels that Gale draws between the Covid pandemic and the Spanish flu, and the disruptions of war and the global upheaval that gripped all of us in 2020. Harper is a lovable character, her school friends are sweet, and William's story is spooky and moving. Gale doesn't dwell too long on the lockdowns themselves, focusing more on the periods of freedom in between, but not shying away from either the difficulties or the unexpected joys of a year that none of us will ever forget.

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