Today on Pop! Goes The Reader I’m happy to host the exclusive cover reveal for Sorry For Your Loss by Joanne Levy, a heartfelt middle grade story about demystifying death and the grieving process in the hope it will potentially empower and help young readers. Sorry For Your Loss is scheduled to be published October 12th 2021 by Orca Book Publishers and follows Evie Walman, a girl who’s an aspiring funeral director and whose family runs a Jewish funeral home. Evie becomes determined to use the knowledge she’s gained at her family’s business to help Oren, a boy who refuses to speak after the sudden and traumatic loss of his parents.
Please read on to learn more about Sorry For Your Loss, including a detailed synopsis, a colourful book cover designed by Rachel Page and a touching note from the author about the origins of Evie’s story and its basis in Joanne Levy’s own life and experiences.
About Joanne Levy
Being the youngest and the only female among four children, Joanne Levy was often left to her own devices and could frequently be found sitting in a quiet corner with her nose in a book.
Since she left the corporate world in 2013, Joanne helps other authors with their administrative needs as a virtual author assistant.
Joanne is the author of Small Medium At Large, Fish Out Of Water, The Sun Will Come Out, and the upcoming Sorry For Your Loss. She can usually be found at her computer, either creating spreadsheets (sometimes just for fun) or channeling her younger self into books. She lives in rural Ontario, Canada with her husband and kids of the furred and feathered variety.
In her non-writing and working time (ha!) Joanne enjoys working with wool to make weird and funny felted creatures. Check out her Instagram for photos of her creations, books, her cats, and sometimes, her lunch.
When I first had the kernel of an idea for a book set in a funeral home, it was very different from that which will come out later this year. This book was supposed to be a companion novel to my debut, Small Medium At Large, a book about a girl who gets hit by lightning and can suddenly hear ghosts. The plan was for this book to be a similarly frothy and funny novel about a boy who would also encounter mostly friendly and meddlesome ghosts thanks to spending time at his family’s funeral business. I’d even done some preliminary research, touring the Jewish funeral home my father manages, including the rooms that the public don’t normally see – the room where they prepare the bodies, the supply room, and yes, the storage facilities for the bodies — the fridge.
I had a few false starts in writing; for some reason, the story wouldn’t gel. I struggled with balancing funny (sort of my thing) with the dark subject matter. It just wasn’t working. Such as often happens with challenging ideas, I put the book away for a while, confident I’d get back to it someday.
Then I lost my mom. And a weird and very unexpected thing happened. When we went to the funeral home to make all the arrangements, because of my father’s position, we had special, behind-the-scenes access. I realized I felt comforted by what I already knew.
I knew what would happen to my mom between the time of her death to the time of her burial. I felt better for knowing how she would be cared for and the details of the rituals that would be performed to honor her. It didn’t seem quite so scary to me. Horribly heartbreaking, yes, because I was very close to my mom and she left us quickly and far too soon, but knowing what to expect made that heartbreak just a little more bearable. I trusted that she would be well cared for. That trust was something I didn’t even know I needed until just then.
It struck me that not everyone has that prior knowledge and access, especially kids. We talk about heaven and going to “a better place” but we don’t talk much about the funerals, especially the particulars about what happens to our loved ones’ bodies. But many of us — especially kids — really want to know. But we don’t have the access or a safe place to explore what happens when we die.
That is why I wrote Sorry For Your Loss. I wanted to pull back the curtain in a safe, informative, and entertaining way that was accessible for kids (and maybe for grown-ups too).
I sincerely hope readers of all ages enjoy this book. Perhaps they’ll learn something. But more important, I hope they find comfort in the knowing.
Cover design by Rachel Page
Evie Walman is not obsessed with death. She does think about it a lot, though, but only because her family runs a Jewish funeral home. At twelve, Evie already knows she’s going to be a funeral director when she grows up.
So what if the kids at school call her “corpse girl” and say she smells like death? They’re just mean and don’t get how important it is to have someone take care of things when your world is falling apart. Evie loves dusting caskets, polishing pews, and vacuuming the chapel ― and on funeral days, she dresses up and hands out tissues and offers her condolences to mourners.
She doesn’t normally help her parents with the grieving families directly, until one day when they ask her to help with Oren, a boy who was in a horrific car accident that killed both his parents. Oren refuses to speak and Evie, who is nursing her own private grief, is determined to find a way to help him deal with his loss.