The Goodbye Year

The Goodbye Year

"...really nailed that feeling of being on the cusp of growing up. We often say books are relatable, but in this case it’s so easy to empathise with Harper because most of us understand what she’s going through. The Goodbye Year is an engaging, entertaining and relatable novel that I highly recommend to readers entering those big and exciting teenage years."

Better Reading

‘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


Check availability on the publisher’s website.

‘…there is every reason to use this novel in the classroom as a model text’ Jenine Westerberg, ACTATE (ACT Association for the Teaching of English)

‘A fabulous story about growing up, navigating the challenges and confusion of the last year of primary school and the awkwardness of puberty, learning to say goodbye and the importance of friendship. The Goodbye Year is a beautifully written story that deftly weaves the challenges that Harper is faced with in 2020, into the historical challenges that confronted young people in the past, like World War and the Spanish flu, and shows that no matter what happens we can always rise to the difficulties that face us. A fantastic read for those in upper primary, especially those embarking on their own “goodbye year”.’ Kate at Lamont Books

‘A time capsule with a dash of mystery, The Goodbye Year encourages kids to be hopeful and brave. I loved it.’ Karys McEwen, author of All the Little Tricky Things

‘Written so brilliantly, this is perfect for ages 9 plus. A book that really captures the complex emotions that many children experienced when catapulted into navigating a pandemic at such a young age. A book that articulates what so many young people might not be able to voice and reading this will be a beautiful healing experience for them. Also, great to read as a parent, to gain a better perspective and understand more.’ Lydia, Great Escape Books

‘This is a sweet, gentle story about friendship, family and about making sense of your world when everything is changing. It’s also about discovering the past and noticing its connection to your present. Highly recommended for ages 10+.’ Angela Crocombe at Readings (available in store or for delivery within Australia)

‘…genuine care and sensitivity…perfectly done. Highly recommended.’ Mhairi Alcorn, ReadPlus

  • Winner, Young People’s History Prize, NSW Premier’s History Awards 2023 (Judges’ comments)
  • Shortlisted, Aurealis Awards 2023
  • Shortlisted, Educational Publishing Awards (Primary Chapter Book) 2023 
  • Longlisted, Davitt Awards 2023
  • Highly Commended, Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards 2023


Read an article in The Guardian about why I wrote this book.


“…a brilliant, masterful work” Judges of the NSW Premier’s History Awards 2023


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 Year explores 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.

'This is a story about change, family, changing friendships and growing up... about being brave in uncertain times - such as getting ready to start Secondary School or living through a pandemic...the main thing I want to say about this book is - read it, and read it now!'

Helen Farch, Teacher Librarian