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When You Never Said Goodbye: An Adoptee's Search for Her Birth Mother

When You Never Said Goodbye: An Adoptee's Search for Her Birth Mother Meg Kearney

For young adults, a college girl's search for her birth mother, told through her own poems and journals.  "[A] brave, beautiful story"  --Jacqueline Woodson

Eighteen-year-old adoptee and aspiring poet, Liz McLane, transfers to NYU in Greenwich Village for two reasons: New York City is the place to be a writer, and it’s where she last saw her birth mother, when, at five months old, she was given away. “My blood remembers,” she writes in her journal. “That will help me find her. It must.”

Liz’s poetry classes, new friends, and social life are everything she hoped for. But her search stalls. City birth records and redacted documents from the institution that arranged her adoption yield no clues. Without discovering her birth mother’s name, how could Liz ever find her? Then, in Washington Square Park, a woman guitarist who resembles her, sings a song in a strangely familiar voice. The song “When You Never Said Goodbye” is so deeply moving it seems to have been written especially for her. Could this singer be Liz’s birth mother or is she just the embodiment of a wish?  

Liz is determined to find the answers to the questions that have always haunted her: “Who was the woman who gave me life?” and “Why was I given away?” Supported by her sister and friends, and with the help of a compassionate social worker and a private investigator, she pursues her search to its surprising conclusion.

For more information and a performance of the song "When You Never Said Goodbye" from the book, visit

Click here for a Teacher's Guide
Click here for a guide to this book's poetics

Praise for the Book:

“I loved everyone I met in these pages and felt every moment of deep love and deep loss. When You Never Said Goodbye is a gift to the world, a book you’ll want to read slowly, savoring both the eloquent writing and the brave, beautiful story.”—Jacqueline Woodson, author of Brown Girl Dreaming

"An all-around sparkling story of self-discovery."—Briana Shemroske, Booklist (starred review)

“Kearney’s fast-paced tale offers illuminating insights into the perils and rewards of self-discovery.” —Kirkus Reviews

About the author:

Meg Kearney is an award-winning poet and author of two previous of books about Liz McLane, The Secret of Me and The Girl in the Mirror, both available from Persea. 


Hardcover / $17.95 (Can. $23.95) / ISBN 978-0-89255-479-9 / 280 pages, including The Story Behind the Novel / Notes /Song lyrics / Young Adult Novel in Verse and Journal Entries




Persea Books