Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe
Once: Morris Gleitzman, February 2—3, 2016
My rating: ♦♦♦♦◊
Felix is an orphaned evacuee, living in the Polish mountains during WWII. He escapes the convent that shelters him, believing his book-selling parents are unaware that Nazis are burning Jewish books, and intends to warn them.
A truly heartbreaking coming-of-age tale, Felix’s innocence challenges the reader’s acceptance of the horror of the Holocaust. Piecing together all he witnesses, it takes Felix some time to arrive at the correct conclusions, because the genocide of Jewish people was so horrifically implausible.
Along the way, Felix’s naivete is endearing, and his upbeat spirit is a joy to follow. He meets the younger, orphaned, Zelda and selflessly protects her from the truth while helping her reach ‘the city’, where he hops to find his parents, and safety.
As the story unfolds, the reader is always a step ahead, and the upcoming devastation that awaits so many of the characters is almost too much. Alternately funny and tragic, Once really does tell a story of friendship, and of growing up.
From its innocent beginnings to its tragic end, no reader can get through Once without shedding a tear. And no book telling the story of the Holocaust through the eyes of a child should achieve anything less.