Thursday, July 11, 2013

THEN by Morris Gleitzman

Always on the lookout for interesting accounts of the Holocaust, I picked this one up a few weeks ago.  It wasn't until I got it home that I discovered it is book #2 of a trilogy.  Last night I decided to go ahead and dive into the middle of things and just see what happened.  Well, I'm finished and off to order the other two books!

Felix is ten and Zelda is six.  Felix is Jewish and Zelda is Catholic.  They are both witnesses to the horror and violence of the Nazis.  Having escaped from a prison camp train, they are on the run.  Felix's goal is to find them a safe place and someone to protect them.  He tells stories and tries to get Zelda to imagine the kindly farmer he hopes they will find to take them in and keep them well-fed and safe. 

Their mad dash through the woods is fraught with danger.  They never know when they will be discovered by someone out to rid the world of Jews or someone hoping to turn them in for some meager reward. 

The two children are stopped by a horrifying sight - a huge hole filled with the bodies of other children shot to death by the Nazis.  When a gruff woman meets up with Felix and Zelda, the children fear for their lives, but she takes them to her farm and convinces them she means no harm.  Genia becomes the parent the two desperately need.  However, even her good intentions can't guarantee their safety. 

Having only read one of the three books, I still think this trilogy will pair well with Holocaust stories like NIGHT and DIARY OF A YOUNG GIRL.

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