When You Never Said Goodbye: An Adoptee’s Search for Her Birth Mother,  A Novel in Poems and Journal Entries


    “Meg’s writing takes you into the heart of the story and holds you there. I loved everyone I met on 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 and beautiful story.” —Jacqueline Woodson

    Listen to the Title Song:

    Song copyright (c) 2016 by Meg Kearney and Chris Little. Recording copyright (c) Colin McCaffrey. All rights reserved. Credits: Meg Kearney, lyrics; Chris Little, melody & guitar; Beth Grosart, vocals; Colin McCaffrey, fiddle & sound production.



    Starred Review Starred Review from BookList:
    In this final installment to the trilogy that began with The Secret of Me (2007), poet Kearney draws 18- year-old Liz McLane’s years-long search for her birth mother to a close. Though a recent registry to three major adoptee reunion sites has yet to generate a match, Liz, newly transferred to NYU—and living in the city she last saw her “first mother”—remains resolute. But as social stresses, a mounting workload, and an eerily familiar face in Washington Square Park mingle with her increasingly confounding quest, Liz must confront thorny questions of family, faith, and the indelible influence of the past—and how each may frame her future. Partially inspired by Kearney’s own experience as an adoptee, Liz’s first-person account unfolds in a series of sincere and succinct (often no longer than a page) journal entries, haikus, villanelles, letters, and more. While the search itself no doubt fuels the narrative, Liz’s flourishing friendships, depictions of an ever-bustling Big Apple, and dogged devotion to her craft of poetry add considerable depth to the already gripping journey. Appended suggested reading, including guides to poetics as well as adoption registries, clinch this one’s status as both an enlightening resource and an all-around sparkling story of self-discovery. — Briana Shemroske


    Kirkus Reviews: A college-age adoptee searches for her birth mother. In the final novel-in-verse installment of her identity-probing trilogy (The Girl in the Mirror, 2012, etc.), Kearney’s scrappy protagonist, Liz McLane, heads to the Big Apple in search of answers. Ostensibly there to study poetry at NYU, Liz is also in search of her birth mother, who gave her up for adoption there when she was an infant. Liz is more conscious than many a white girl of being “white as paper. Church-white / with monk-brown curls.” One of the strengths of Kearney’s first-person tale is the normalized diversity of friends and loved ones Liz draws around her on her quest, dating a boy with “half- / Mexican skin” and hanging with friends of differing racial and ethnic backgrounds, who may be gay, or—like Liz—also dealing with the loss of a parent. Another highlight is how Liz’s study of writing affords Kearney the opportunity to experiment with poetic form and include useful tips for budding poets like Liz, such as “When the subject / feels dangerous, form is your friend.” Legal and historical hurdles Liz encounters throughout her search only spur her to dig even deeper into her past, propelling the narrative to a surprising conclusion. Thoughtful and brimming with justified teen angst, Kearney’s fast-paced tale offers illuminating insights into the perils and rewards of self-discovery. (Verse fiction. 12-18)


    Publisher’s Weekly: “Through journal entries and varied styles of poems, Kearney sensitively conveys Liz’s journey of discovery.”


    Review by Adoption.com
    Adoption Books | Review of Meg Kearney’s Adoption-Themed Trilogy
    “One adoptee takes us into the life of another adoptee,” by Denalee Chapman April 06, 2017
    Adoptee Meg Kearney takes us into the life of a teenage adoptee—a gifted writer named Liz. Through poetry and journaling, Liz shares her day-to-day life experiences, her innermost feelings, her hopes, and her anger. In a most artistic way, Meg writes Liz’s life, drawing the reader in as if the books are each a part of a mini-series and we can’t wait to see what Liz is doing and feeling in the current episode.

    The Secret of Me is the first, followed by The Girl in the Mirror, and completing the trilogy is When You Never Said Good-bye. Through the books we learn, from a teenager’s perspective, what it’s like to know you were first introduced to your parents through a phone call rather than a pregnancy test, what it’s like to have siblings who also aren’t biologically your parents’ child, connecting with friends who are also adopted, and longing to know your roots. Liz involves others in her search for her birth mother and does some sleuthing herself. Avoiding the trendy search method called social media, Liz finds other ways.

    Adoptees from a closed adoption who search and find are filled with a plethora of emotions. Meg captures those emotions and writes as Liz, a young person who ploughs through it all.

    If you are connected to adoption in any way, you’ll find Meg Kearney’s writing irresistible. If you’re an adoptive parent in a closed adoption, Meg gives insight into the heart and mind of a teenager which could prove invaluable to you as you help your child navigate their own journey.

    A moving, nuanced story of a girl’s search for her birth mother, a major contribution to the literature of adoption.

    Eighteen-year-old adoptee and aspiring poet Liz McLane transfers to NYU for two reasons: New York 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 and social life are everything she hoped for. But her search languishes.  City birth records and redacted records of the institution that handled her adoption yield nothing. Without a name, how would she ever find her birth mother?  Then, in Washington Square Park, where Liz goes to gather her thoughts, an unknown guitarist sings a soulful song in a strangely familiar voice.  Could she be Liz’s birth mother or is she the embodiment of a wish? A compassionate social worker and a private investigator guide Liz’s search to its unpredictable ending.