If you only know Morris Gleitzman’s for his funny books – like Blabber Mouth, Misery Guts, Toad Rage and so on – you will maybe be surprised by this series. Soon is the fifth book (the others are Once, Then, After and Now) but they don’t need to be read in order. This was the first of them that I’d actually read – but I am going to read them all now. Among the many things that impressed me about this novel is that it is told simply, without difficult language or structure, and yet it is complex. It’s moving, inspiring, violent, sad, hopeful, devastating – and even at times funny. Which is pretty amazing, when you consider the subject matter…how teenager Felix survives in the aftermath of WW2 in shattered, lawless Poland.
Soon, I hope, the world will be a safe and happy place.
This morning, it isn’t.
Over there, for instance. On the roof of the apartment building next door.
Two of them. Or is it three? I can’t see them because we’ve got sacks covering our windows, but I can hear their voices.
I try to keep my voice as quiet as I can.
‘Gabriek,’ I whisper urgently. ‘Wake up.’
Gabriek mumbles but stays asleep.
I wish I didn’t have to disturb him. When he hears what I’m hearing, his poor middle-aged heart valves might not make it through to breakfast.
My heart valves are hammering away like the engines on a plummeting Nazi fighter plane.
You know when a war ends and you give a big sigh because you’ve survived and things will be better and you start trying to live a normal daily life but things aren’t better because the city has been wrecked and people are hungry so you lay low on the second floor and pray that intruders won’t barge into your secret hideout and take it and kill you but now it looks like they’re going to?
That’s happening to me and Gabriek.