Once and Then Book Review (More like Once I cried, Then I cried some more)

Finally, I get around to reviewing the books I borrowed and read on a dare. Yay!

The problem is that this specific book is so good, I can’t just review it. Or rather, these specific books.

Once is its own book, and Then is a book by itself. They’re just smushed into one cover. Funny, ain’t it? There’s a whole series by Gleitzman, Once, Then, Now, After, Soon, Maybe- I really need to read the rest. I mean, these two alone shredded me.

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If you’ve ever read The Boy In The Striped Pajamas, then you already get the setting for these books. Sorta. They travel a bunch of places. But war-you can’t avoid it. It’s everywhere. Through a child’s eyes, however, it’s a whole other story.

Felix. Good ole young, hopeful, naïve Felix. Just a kid in an orphanage whose parents are sure to pick him up after they find a safe place to store their books, right? Well, add in Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass and the fact he’s Jewish and the fact there’s soldiers everywhere, and it gets a little trickier.

But see, Felix doesn’t know why there’s a war or why everything’s happening the way it is. To Felix, it’ll all be okay in the end. So until that end comes, he’ll content himself with his stories and wait.

Ayyy, if only he did. If only he didn’t see the soldiers take those books away and burn ’em up. Then maybe he wouldn’t have done what he did and none of the heartbreak happened.

But then again, sometimes the hero needs to make choices he can’t ever take back. More on that in another post. Anyway, Felix ends up doing just that.

Morris Gleitzman Quote: “Everybody deserves to have something good in their life. At least once.”

I’ve always loved studying WWII, and reading fiction from that genre. I don’t know why. This period, this time, it’s special for me. I don’t really have any reason. I’m just one of the many lives forever affected by that war ending. I’m more especially interested in the people whose lives were directly affected by the war. Real or fictional. Especially since fictional often is heavily based on the real.

Especially because fiction opens our eyes to how bad the real thing was.

Anyway, thoughts specifically on the book:

I loved the style of writing this was written in. As you can guess, every chapter in the book starts with the word “once”. Except Then. Then every word in Then starts with “then.” Okay, that’s confusing, but read the book and you’ll get what I’m saying. XD

The characters oh my word they were so well written I can’t even. Felix, Zelda, personwhosenameIcan’tsaybecausespoilers, otherpersonwhosenameIcan’tsayforsamereason, they all had depth, they all had arcs, and just- ahhh it seemed so.. real. They carried the story so well.

I loved the perspective this was written in. POV. Whatever. Like The Boy In the Striped Pajamas, this is through the eyes of a boy who has to grow up too fast. A boy who’s naïve, and hopeful, and dreaming, and basically every kid ever. Seeing everything he does through his eyes opened my eyes.

See the source image

Zelda ahhh this kid is a well written 6 year old and she’s just really adorable and great and.. so sad.

Once and Then shows an amount of slightly violent stuff, like kids all being dead and guns and knives and -okay, erase slightly. It is violent, because the war was violent, and none of what happened should ever be whitewashed. Ever.

And yet, despite everything, there’s hope. Felix, as young and naïve and childish (oh come on, he IS a child) is so.. hopeful. And that hope is seen in trace amounts throughout the book. And that’s something I really, really loved in this bittersweet, hard hitting novel about a kid who was forever changed by WWII. Maybe he wasn’t in real life, but somebody was.

We shouldn’t forget that.

Life is a highway,

Jo

 

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A Narrative

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There are too many assignments to finish. Wayy too much. *groans* Come winter break and save me!

Ahem. Anyway, one of the assignments is to write a narrative about a frightening experience from life… and publish it.

O_O

By BJU definition, apparently, “publish” is to put it out so people can read it. not just show it to your teach- mom after you’re done.

D’oh!

This wouldn’t be one of the first “school” assignments to pop up here, and it won’t be the last, lemme tell ya. I gotta write a newspaper article- or at least a good mock copy. *facepalms* So. uh. Here goes nothing.

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It was my uncle’s church’s camping trip, and my family decided to take all five of us kids, a giant tent, and drive over to Ajax, I think it was. I’d thought it was the coolest thing ever. Being a city kid didn’t give one enough safety or space to explore, so camping was as rare as hot dogs on a Monday night. We’d eagerly set up the tent, jumped on the airbed til the air leaked out, and changed into our swimsuits when Dad told us about the camp pool.

I can still remember what it looked like, though my memory needs to be jump started with old pictures to properly see the place. The cabin had a nice, oak scent to its lacquered wooden walls, but the pool had a different scent of its own. It smelled nice and clean and.. inviting. The water most certainly was, with the light from the wide glass windows glinting off the shimmery water. My sister and brothers jumped into the water without a second thought, while I stayed right at the edge, the water lapping my feet.

See, I didn’t know how to swim.

To a five year old such as myself, however, it was exciting enough to lightly hop into the clear blue water and paddle. But for my dad, well, he was pretty sure I could do more than wave my arms while my feet were securely entwined around the railing.

“How ‘bout you swim over to me?” Dad called from where he was. To my tiny one foot tall self, it seemed he was a gazillion miles away, when in reality it was probably one stroke. Talk about pathetic.

“Um, no thanks!” I chirped from where I was, much preferring to float inside my little safety vest. Just then my sister and oldest brother swooped past me, engaged in some kind of race. I suddenly wanted to join them, and let my feet go from the railing, my hands paddling to the middle of the pool.

And then I dropped.

It was fast, sudden, dark . I somehow plunged down into the deep darkness below. Well, it wouldn’t have been so dark if I’d trusted my goggles and opened my eyes. But no, I didn’t. The water surrounded me as I sank deeper and deeper, my ears only hearing things muffled and my heart pounding.

It was just a game at first, and I could play it. I shut my eyes and held my breath as I headed deeper and deeper into the pool. I thought it was exciting, fun, that I could propel myself up like in the stories and break into the surface, that until then I could blow bubbles out like Captain Hook. But then it got scarier. I couldn’t hear Dad, or Joseph or Jacob, I was running out of air to blow bubbles, and no matter how hard I flapped my arms, I couldn’t get out of the that horrible, horrible dark water. The water engulfed me, just like the paralyzing fear that I was gonna drown. And I couldn’t scream. That was the worst part. Besides from the fact I couldn’t breathe.

Quickly, suddenly, someone, something plunged into the water and pulled me out, and everything reversed. I could see light again- light! And I could breathe, and feel air. And scream my head off as I clung to my sister’s shoulders.

“I want to go home! I want to go home!” I cried as Dad wrapped me up in a little towel and sat me on the side, far away from the water.

I was never gonna do that again. Ever.

Then my sister and all three brothers offered to carry me on their backs like baby otters do with their mothers.

I jumped back in, laughing like my near-death experience never happened.

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If you’re reading this, you just read like 500 words of drek! Congratulations! As a reward you get the link to the 4th carol and me leaving you alone until tomorrow. 🙂 A lovely day to ya!