Sunday, May 25, 2014

Once Audiobook Review

Title: Once
Author: Morris Gleitzman
Narrated by: Morris Gleitzman
Publisher: Bolinda Publishing
Publication Date: February 2, 2006

Listening copy via Sync

Once is the first in a series following Felix, a young Jewish boy, during World War II. But, of course, it's more than that.

Felix is living in a Catholic orphanage in Poland when the novel begins. His parents were booksellers and left him at the orphanage while they ... well, Felix isn't entirely sure about that. He makes up stories about how his parents are having adventures and trying to get back to him.

And he is positively, absolutely sure that they have sent him a sign that they are going to pick him up. Except that they don't. Instead, Nazi soldiers arrive at the orphanage and burn books that the nuns had been hiding. Now Felix is convinced that his parents are in danger because Nazis hate books so much. He runs away from the orphanage to save them.

As an adult, I know what Felix is heading into, even though he clearly doesn't. But that's really the beauty of the book. Morris Gleitzman captures Felix's innocence and his imagination and how he interprets the world around him.

Felix meets a girl named Zelda, whose parents had been killed, and eventually they are forced into the Polish ghettos. As he begins to realize that the stories he has created are all wrong, he also learns the power that storytelling can bring to those in pain.

The author's Australian accent initially put me off a bit, but then I got into the story and characters. He reads well, bringing the right emotions and tone to all the characters, from Felix and Zelda to the Nazi soldiers and the kindly dentist who protects Felix in the ghetto.

I'd recommend Once to readers who enjoyed Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Septys or The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

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