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

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Annotation: Tells the true story of the life of the author's mother during the year of 1938, as they attempt to escape Germany.
Genre: Poetry
Catalog Number: #40847
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition Date: 2010
Pages: 136 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 1-423-12901-6 Perma-Bound: 0-605-40885-8
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-423-12901-1 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-40885-2
Dewey: 811
LCCN: 2009018671
Dimensions: 20 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
Holocaust titles appear every season, prompting some to overlook the genre, but the best always approach the topic from a fresh perspective, making them worthy purchases. Levy shares excerpts from her mother Jutta Salzberg's 1938 poetry album, in which friends and family express good wishes in poems and drawings. She includes reproductions of original pages, English translations, and free verse musings that reflect 11-year-old Jutta's voice and feelings as she watches Jewish friends disappear from Hamburg while her own family waits for U.S. visas. Levy also includes a few entries from Jutta's diary and oblaten (sticker) images from the original. Although entries are short, distinct characters and a strong sense of narrative emerge. Levy ends with the Salzbergs' November 1938 arrival in New York; an afterword provides family and Holocaust background and traces what happened to the people introduced. Similar in scope to Karen Ackerman's The Night Crossing (1994), this makes a good introduction to Holocaust literature, especially for those who aren't quite ready for scenes of death camps.
Kirkus Reviews
Writing for modern readers about the Holocaust is fraught, and when children are the intended audience, the difficulties can be insurmountable. Levy meets the challenges admirably, partly because she had access to unique primary sources: Her mother's autograph book, a poesiealbum , written by friends and family in Hamburg in 1938 and a diary from that same year, when she was 12, form a poignant and chilling basis for the true story of her family's experiences. Each chapter is a translation of an album or diary entry followed by a poem that evokes sadness, despair, anger and longing to escape. The author's introduction and afterword are integral to the work, as they explain some of the history and tell the fates of friends and family members—those who escaped and survived, those who "died at the hands of the Nazis" and those whose exact fate she was unable to discern. While writing as truthfully as the subject demands, she also spares young readers the gruesome details of those deaths. An immensely powerful experience that needs to be read with an adult. (Poetry/nonfiction. 10 & up)
School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 68 Inspired by her mother's poesiealbum (poetry album), which survived her childhood retreat from Nazi Germany, Levy has created a verse novel slim in length but long on beauty, power, and anguish. Jutta Salzberg lived a normal, happy life until 1938. Although Hitler's reign is in its infancy, Jewish Germans already face severe restrictions in their lives; segregated schools, shops, and curfews are already the norm, with stories of the public humiliation of elderly Jews and concentration camps to follow. This book is comprised of actual entries in the poesiealbum penned by Jutta's friends, interspersed with verses in 12-year-old Jutta's voice that respond to and even challenge the sentiments conveyed within each poem. Although her entries get darker and more frightful during Germany's descent into madness, there is still some joy to be found in birthday presents, friendships, and gymnastics lessons. Jutta, based upon Levy's mother, is a character to whom many preadolescents and adolescents, on the brink of questioning spoon-fed platitudes, can relate. The foreword, explaining poesiealbums , and the afterword, detailing Jutta's post-immigration life, are essential reading. The author's extensive research, including tracking down the fate of the majority of Jutta's classmates, is detailed in an understated yet moving tone. A time line including pre- and post-World War II dates, as well as important dates within Jutta's life, is included, as are eight pages of family photos. An outstanding and emotionally taut read for children not quite ready for Jennifer Roy's Yellow Star (Marshall Cavendish, 2006) and other, more graphic depictions of the Holocaust. Jennifer Schultz, Fauquier County Public Library, Warrenton, VA
Starred Review for Publishers Weekly

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. Chapters open with photo reproductions and translations of friends’ comments from 12-year-old Jutta Salzburg’s album. Mostly platitudes, they sharply contrast with Jutta’s frank view of increasing anti-Semitism. “Always honor your elders,” writes one friend, to which Levy (in Jutta’s voice) writes, “Always, Cilly? Always?/ I should honor the Wahls,/ my parents’ friends,/ even after Herr Wahl/ stopped playing cards with Father?/ .... Hitler is my elder.” Levy creates a three-dimensional snapshot of this year of upheaval, from sweet family life to the sorrow of losing friends and the terror of seeing her father threaten to jump out of an official’s window if his family doesn’t obtain visas. They do and immigrate to the U.S., but many of Jutta’s friends and family do not survive, as Levy’s sober afterword relates. While abstaining from horrific details, this book clearly presents key historical events, and more importantly, their direct impact on a perceptive girl. Ages 10–up. (Mar.)

Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Word Count: 12,238
Reading Level: 5.8
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.8 / points: 2.0 / quiz: 136593 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:6.3 / points:5.0 / quiz:Q49755
Lexile: 910L
Guided Reading Level: W

Like other girls, Jutta Salzberg enjoyed playing with friends, going to school, and visiting relatives. In Germany in 1938, these everyday activities were dangerous for Jews. Jutta and her family tried to lead normal lives, but soon they knew they had to escape-if they could before it was too late.

Throughout 1938, Jutta had her friends and relatives fill her poesiealbum-her autograph book-with inscriptions. Her daughter, Debbie Levy, used these entries as a springboard for telling the story of the Salzberg family's last year in Germany. It was a year of change and chance, confusion and cruelty. It was a year of goodbyes.

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