Friday, April 16, 2010

The Year of Goodbyes (MG)

The Year of Goodbyes. Debbie Levy. 2010. Hyperion. 144 pages.

Don't Make A Mess
January 1938

Behold my album's cleanliness,
and when you write don't make a mess.

I write these words on the very first page of my brand-new book,
my wordless,
blank-new book
with sturdy brown covers,
like heels of bread
spread with smooth butter pages inside--
my favorite sandwich.
It's what we all write
(in German)
at the front of our books,
our empty, inviting
poesie books,
before we ask friends
to fill up the pages
with poems and promises,
wishes and warnings,
names and dates.

It is January 1938
I am Jutta Salzberg,
a Jewish girl
in the city of Hamburg,
between the Elbe and Alster rivers,
in the north of Germany.

The Year of Goodbyes is a verse novel based on a true story. The book contains actual entries from Jutta Salzberg's autograph book, her poesiealbum. (I believe a few journal entries are included as well.) In between entries, the narrative is in verse. Debbie Levy is sharing her mother's story. These 'poems' give the reader background into what life was like--for a Jewish family--in Germany in 1938. These poems deal with worries and fears about Hitler. But they also deal with a girl's ordinary life: school, friends, etc.

I definitely recommend this one for those that like historical fiction set during this time period.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Anonymous said...

I thought this book was quite powerful as well. I'm curious as to why you call it a verse novel and historical fiction, though. It's an interesting hybrid. My library cooperative has it mostly cataloged in poetry, but one has a Dewey # as 940.53. I read the arc and am buying it for my school library and am contemplating how I'm going to catalog it.


Marce said...

Found you from the book blog hop.

I have only read Lisa Schroeder's verse novels which were new to me, so thanks for additional ones.

fredamans said...

I love memoirs and verse novels! Great review!

Anna said...

I'm going to have to read this one. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. T4 is another verse novel set during WWII, not sure if you read it. I hope it's okay to link to this post on War Through the Generations.

Diary of an Eccentric