It's the start of 2020 and Harper is filled with anticipation about being in the final year of Riverlark Primary. She wants a leadership role, the comfort of her friendship group, and to fly under the radar of Riverlark's mean-boy.
But one by one things go wrong. When Harper's best friends are made school captains they are consumed by their roles, while her own role -- library captain -- is considered second-rate. Then something major throws life off course: her parents take overseas jobs as nurses in a war zone. Harper moves in with Lolly, a grandmother she barely knows -- and her five pets, vast collection of old trinkets and very different expectations.
Just as Harper is getting used to Lolly, the pandemic arrives, and her goodbye year is nothing like she'd hoped it would be. Strange things are happening: she wakes in the night in odd places, fixates on an old army badge that seems to have a mind of its own, and on a visit to the school library during lockdown she's convinced she's seen a ghost.
Who is haunting her?
Can she get through the anxiety of the pandemic without her mum and dad? And will Harper find a way to be happy with her goodbye year?
The Goodbye Yearexplores all the trickiness and confusion of the end of primary school and a new stage of life that looms with all its uncertainties and possibilities.
Emily Gale's books include The Other Side of Summerand its companion novelI Am Out with Lanterns, the Eliza Boom Diaries, Steal My Sunshine and Girl, Aloud, as well as her recent middle-grade collaboration with friend and fellow author Nova Weetman, Elsewhere Girls.
'Timely and vivid, this brilliant book is a warm hug, a rustle of autumn leaves and the last day of term all rolled into one. I loved every minute spent with Harper, her friends, her sometimes-prickly gran, Lolly, her persistent ghost and her dear little trench dog, Hector.' Fiona Wood, author of How to Spell Catastrophe