|I met Debbie Levy at the ALA Poetry Blast in 2010, and her son and her mother, Jutta, were with her at the dinner afterward. That’s where I first heard about The Year of Goodbyes (Disney-Hyperion, 2010), a collection of free verse poems telling the story of her mother’s last year in Germany in 1938, before her family escaped to America.
I finally read this book, and it’s wonderful! Each poem is inspired by an entry from her mom’s poesiealbum, written by classmates, friends, and family members. Jutta has to say goodbye, one way or another, to almost every person.
The story is gripping and powerful. What a fantastic complement it would make to reading Anne Frank’s diary, too, when students study the Holocaust. The story really moved me, and I was so relieved to know (having met Debbie’s mother) that while the book was difficult to take emotionally, because of the subject matter, at least I knew the main character survived!
Here’s just one poem I loved:
I can’t imagine
being as old as
Mother and Father,
but I also can’t imagine
not becoming as old as them.
–Debbie Levy, all rights reserved
This book won a number of honors and awards, and I hope you’ll check it out.
Madigan has the Poetry Friday roundup today. Check it out!