THEN is the second in a series of books about the Holocaust told from the perspective of Felix, a ten-year-old boy. The first book in the series is entitled ONCE. Every chapter of the series starts with the first word of the title of the book. It is not only an effective ploy but it moves the plot beautifully. Felix has escaped from an orphanage that his parents, booksellers, put him into to escape from the Holocaust. It is now 1942 and Felix and Zelda, a seven-year-old girl he has saved, are hiding in the forest. Zelda’s parents have been killed by the resistance while Felix was watching. A woman who lives in a house outside the forest takes them in and hides them, pretending to be their mother. Felix and Zelda have frightening and dangerous experiences and the reader is drawn into worrying about them. The suspense increases and culminates in a startling finale. At first, Felix does not understand what is happening to his world but he eventually sees what life is like under the Nazis. The series reminds me of the book The Boy in the Striped Pajamas but the characters, story and writing are more believable in the Gleitzman books. I love this book because it tells the story from the perspective of a child; there is no idealization and we feel we are in the adventure along with Felix. It is helpful to read these novels in the order of publication. Another book in the series entitled NOW is coming out in 2012. There is an author’s note to the reader at the end of the book telling the reader that he doesn’t write from personal history because imagination gives him the ability to “grasp the unimaginable”. He also recommends his website and a bibliography to be found there. This book is highly recommended for ages 10 and up.
Additional Titles in the Series
Barbara Silverman had an M.L.S. from Texas Woman’s University. She worked as a children’s librarian at the Corpus Christi Public Libraries and at the Corpus Christi ISD before retiring. She worked as a volunteer at the Astor Judaic Library of the Lawrence Family JCC in La Jolla, CA. Sadly, Barbara passed away is 2012.