The Year of Goodbyes: A True Story of Friendship, Family, and Farewells

This is the true story, told in verse, of a girl living in Germany in 1938.  The girl and her family try to lead normal lives as the tide of anti-Semitism rises around them.  Throughout 1938, the girl—my mother, Jutta Salzberg—fills her poesiealbum, or autograph book, with inscriptions and drawings from friends and relatives.  These entries are the stepping stones through the story of this wrenching, eventful year.

The 2019 re-issue of The Year of Goodbyes has a new cover, re-designed interior, and a foreword by author Tom Angleberger.

Disney-Hyperion Books
Ages 10 up
ISBN 978-1-3680-5455-3 (2019 re-issue)
ISBN 978-1-4231-2901-1 (2010 hardcover)
ISBN 978-1-4847-2296-1 (2015 paperback)

Buy the book:
IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Book Trailer
The Poesiealbum Project
Discussion Guide
Writing Workshop Guide


* Parents’ Choice Award 2010 *

* 2011 Sydney Taylor Notable Book *

* California Reading Association’s Eureka! Honor Book Award 2013 *

* VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates) Nonfiction Honor List 2010 *

* CCBC Choices 2011, the best-of-the-year list of the Cooperative Children’s Book Center *

* National Endowment for the Humanities Nonfiction Booklist (“Nonfiction Favorites”) *

* Kirkus Reviews Best Children’s Books of 2010 *

*   “An outstanding and emotionally taut read. . . .”
—School Library Journal (starred review)

*   “Artfully weaving together her mother’s poesiealbum (autograph/poetry album), diary, and her own verse, Levy crafts a poignant portrait of her Jewish mother’s life in 1938 Nazi Germany that crackles with adolescent vitality.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

*   “… poignant and chilling . . . [a]n immensely powerful experience….”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“This is a can’t-put-down book that will spark discussions among readers both young and old.”
—IndieBound “Next List”

Included in The Mother of All Booklists: The 500 Most Nonfiction Recommended Reads for Ages 3 to 103 (Roman & Littlefield 2014)

Selected for Booktalking Around the World: Great Global Reads for Ages 9-14 (Libraries Unlimited 2010)

Master List for Vermont’s Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award 2011-2012

2012 Nominee for New York State’s Charlotte Award

2012-2013 Nominee for the Beehive Book Awards, sponsored by the Children’s Literature Association of Utah (CLAU).

2013 Selection for the city-wide All Spencer (Iowa) Reads Program, an intergenerational reading initiative

Texas Lone Star Reading List Nominee 2012

American Library Association Notable Children’s Books Nominee 2011


The Poesiealbum Project
At the heart of The Year of Goodbyes is my mother’s poesiealbum, or poetry album.  During 1938, she had friends and relatives fill her poesiealbum with thoughts, wishes, and drawings that she carried with her across an ocean to a new life.  Now I’m inviting readers to continue the tradition by creating their own pages for an online poesiealbum.

Interviews about the book
The Washington Post Magazine
“Voice, Verse, Veracity” at I.N.K.:  Interesting Nonfiction for Kids blog
Interview with radio host Marc Bernier at the 2011 Miami Book Fair (video)
Movie Mom blog on BeliefNet (with Nell Minow)

Jewish Books for Children blog (with Barbara Bietz)
Mother Daughter Book Club blog (with Cindy Hudson)
The Book of Life podcast (with Heidi Estrin)

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
The museum commemorates the Holocaust and works to teach people about the dangers of hatred and prejudice.  Its website contains a great deal of information about the Holocaust, and about genocide in the world today.

Yad Vashem
This is the international center for documentation, research, education and commemoration of the Holocaust.  Its online Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names includes the names and biographical information for millions of the Jews who were killed by the Nazis in the Holocaust.

The Jews of Hamburg
In the 1970s, a German teacher and political scientist named Wilhelm Mosel dedicated himself to documenting the history and experience of the Jewish community of Hamburg, Germany under Nazi rule. Hamburg is the city where my mother lived as a girl, and where events in The Year of Goodbyes took place. Mosel wrote and published, in German, detailed booklets about his findings. They are of limited availability in libraries. Until 2012, a University of Hamburg professor, Struan Robertson, made these materials available on a university website in English translation. When Robertson retired, the university took down the website, but thanks to an Internet archive (addresses below), the materials are still accessible. They provide poignant, invaluable information, including photographs and charts, for any reader who wishes to immerse herself or himself in a street-level view of a community in crisis and, ultimately, destroyed. When conducting my own research for my book, I was horrified and moved to find the names of my mother’s friends on the chilling deportation lists. I was grateful to be able to study photographs of the places and people of my mother’s early life. Robertson also assembled other resources about the Jews of Hamburg, which are part of this archive as well. Many thanks to Struan Robertson and to the late Wilhelm Mosel. (this has information on the Jewish School for Girls, which my mother and her friends attended)


A closer look at some of the materials I examined in researching The Year of Goodbyes.
(click for larger image)


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