Now by Morris Gleitzman
|Now by Morris Gleitzman|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: The concluding part of this lovely and moving trilogy about the Holocaust takes us to the present day in Australia, where Zelda struggles to live up to the namesake who died at the hands of the Nazis. Gorgeous book, bubbling over with understanding and humanity.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 176||Date: May 2010|
|External links: Author's website|
We first met Felix in Once. He thought he was the luckiest child in the orphanage, since he was the only one whose parents weren't dead. Sadly, he was wrong about that. We followed his story in Then, in which he and his dear friend Zelda are on the run from the Nazis at the height of the Holocaust and its terrifying Final Solution. In Now, we catch up with Felix many years later. He's built a good life as a surgeon in Australia, and is now frustratingly retired, unable to operate because of his shaky hands. He's looking after his granddaughter, Zelda's namesake, whose parents are doctors volunteering in Darfur.
Zelda Mark II isn't having an easy time of it. She's missing her parents terribly and although she knows they are doing important work in the refugee camps, she can't help but feel abandoned. She's being bullied at her new school. And, perhaps most of all, she's finding it very difficult to live up to her name. Zelda Mark I was brave and bright and heroic - and since she didn't make it to Australia like Felix, she's taken on an iconic status in everybody's mind. Quite how this younger Zelda can live up to that, she just can't imagine. Felix is equally haunted by the past, and his own imagined failings during that terrible time.
And then a vicious bushfire sweeps Australia, burning all in its path. Can Felix and Zelda seize its flames as an opportunity to cleanse their fears and guilts, or will it burn them up for good?
I have loved this wonderful series from Morris Gleitzman. It's truthful and direct and it doesn't shy away from the horrors of its subject. But it's brimming over with optimism too - full of the kind of understanding and humanity that enables people to make fresh starts and to move on. The writing is simple and accessible, but open to a wide range of readers. A middle years primary child could approach it with ease, but a middle-aged and haggard reviewer - me, for instance - wouldn't feel too grand to read it.
It's wonderfully observed and snatches of humour are never too far from the surface - "I can't leave Jumble," I say. "He's my sister!" - and every character is fallible, just as every human is fallible. The lesson in these books is that no matter how many times you get knocked down, you should get up and try again. And try again is exactly what Felix and Zelda do.
My thanks to the good people at Puffin for sending the book.
They might also look at I Am David by Ann Holm about a boy escaping from a concentration camp in Eastern Europe, or The Road of Bones by Anne Fine about Stalin's Russia during the purges. Billy the Kid by Michael Morpurgo is another lovely story about an old man whose life was blighted by war.
You can read more book reviews or buy Now by Morris Gleitzman at Amazon.com.
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