After 16 years, Morris Gleitzman brings his best-selling series to a close, saying an emotional goodbye to his hero, Felix. The books have now stretched well beyond their beginnings, where Gleitzman introduced young readers to the horrors of the Holocaust through the eyes of his young protagonists, Felix, a Jewish boy, and Zelda, the Polish girl with Nazi parents whose life he saved. Since then, we’ve seen Felix as an old man in Now, and on the cusp of his adolescence again in After, Maybe and Soon.
In Always, Gleitzman takes us once more to future Felix as he says goodbye to his granddaughter Zelda and begins to navigate the challenges of old age and loneliness. He’s shocked when Wassim, a child and a stranger, arrives on his doorstep with a note begging for his help. Wassim’s struggles remind Felix of his own, and the two turn out to be more closely connected than either had expected. Felix sees the chance to offer Wassim the same “good-protection” that saved him over and over as a child, and Wassim sees Felix as an adult he can trust.
Gleitzman has no shortage of fans for this series – as an introduction to the Holocaust it is perfectly pitched for middle-grade readers, presenting history in a way that is matter-of-fact and hopeful without denying the realities.