Thursday 11 June 2015


Soon by Morris Gleitzman (Penguin Viking)
PB RRP $19.99
ISBN 9780607078875

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Soon continues the story of Felix whose story has been related in a series of books, OnceThenNow and After which follow the Jewish boy’s experiences of World War 11. These novels have won numerous awards for the Australian author and are pitched at readers in upper primary and early high school.

Like the earlier books about Felix, Gleitzman writes in first person present tense which helps to contribute to the danger and immediacy experienced by the thirteen-year-old boy who lives in Nazi-occupied Poland post war. In this novel, Felix is living in a hidden shelter with an alcoholic adult, Gabriek, who has numerous rules for survival. Felix has fallen foul of Gogal, a gang of murderous men who roam the streets in trucks so the boy is always on the look-out for them – and, at one stage, is captured by the them.

Felix has numerous escapades in his search for food in the bombed city in which he lives. He is befriended by Anya, (a girl who originally holds a gun to his head) and finds himself responsible for the life of a small baby. Anya introduces Felix to a kind doctor who is in charge of an orphanage and who encourages the boy in his quest to become a doctor, too. He lets Felix loose in his library which is a blessing to the boy who loves reading.

Every chapter in the book starts with the word ‘Soon’ after which follows a fast-paced exploit (or series of exploits), usually with a cliff-hanger ending. Gleitzman writes in a clipped fashion with words that an average reader can understand. His main character is likable, quirky and real. One can see why his books are popular. Here is an example of the book’s text:

‘Lights. Voices. Rough hands on me.
I open my eyes.
And yell.
It’s not a dream.
A burning torch, blinding. My clothes undone. Men standing over me, three or four, pointing, faces twisted with hatred, shouting.’

The book is filled with dangerous events like this, with the text gripping and written in staccato, like a person trying to quickly gulp in air in order to survive. In the book’s postscript, Gleitzman says that Felix’s stories come from his imagination but are based on his readings of many books about ‘people who lived and struggled and loved and faced death in that terrible time.’

To find out if Felix survives, it is recommended that one read this book.

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