Review: After by Morris Gleitzman

Blurb: So much was lost – can hope survive? After the Nazis took my parents I was scared. After they killed my best friend I was angry. After they ruined my thirteenth birthday I was determined. To get to the forest. To join forces with Gabriek and Yuli. To be a family. To defeat the Nazis after all.

Title: After

Author: Morris Gleitzman

Publisher: Puffin Books, owned by Penguin Group

Genre: Fiction, Children’s, Historical

Review:

It’s probably no surprise at all that I’m back reviewing another book in this series. Felix’s story is one that I just can’t seem to let go of. In this book, we follow Felix as he finds himself in more awful situations beginning on his thirteenth birthday.

We first rejoin the story with Felix being hidden by Gabriek before a head injury has them seeking out partisan protection in the forest. As always, there are so many things that I loved about this book. Gleitzman continues to write with such care and consideration for the real stories that this is based on, voicing Felix in such a believable and heart aching way. The imagery that his words trigger is enough to allow you to see the characters and their situation in your mind, offering an immersive story.

This was the second book in this series to make me cry. I won’t leave any spoilers here but there’s a very touching scene when Felix finds someone from his past that he doesn’t expect to see and it exposed to the true impact of the abhorrent treatment in concentration camps that he hadn’t seen first hand before. It is another example of the overarching effect of war and how it is inescapable. My heart broke in this particular scene both for Felix and all that he had lost, when the hope of his old life seemed close enough to touch. All I can say is that Gleitzman is an expert in tugging on your heart strings, so much so that I haven’t yet found it elsewhere.

As usual, if you need any more convincing to pick up this series, I’ll mention the other positives. The characters are well written and considered, seeming real and understandable. In every book in this series, with this one being no exception, I felt a personal need to protect these characters. Felix and the growing list of awful things resting on his shoulders, Gabriek and his continued bravery despite his own loss, Yuli and her need to avenge her family even by putting herself directly in harms way. The description given to describe settings and actions is enough to create a vivid mental image of what the characters are experiencing which only helps to hook you further into the story and desire to protect the characters. Gleitzman has obviously done much research into this period of history and the stories of those who lived through it – it’s an important era for us to learn about, in any capacity, to ensure that it is never repeated. Perhaps more practically, this book isn’t very long so can be read fairly quickly and may be useful if you, like me, find that reading shorter books helps to get over a reading slump. The plot advances at a steady pace so you don’t spend any time waiting for something to happen. The font size isn’t too small either which would be helpful for anyone who finds tiny prints difficult to read.

As for what I disliked about this book, I can genuinely say nothing. Despite a potential trigger warning for distressing material (concentration camps, executions, gore) I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

Overall, as with the three books that come before this one, I cannot recommend them enough. Don’t be put off by the fact that you’ll most likely find them in the YA department of a bookshop as they are truly unmissable. Personally, I feel like this era is so important for everyone to have an understanding of and, if you’re not a fan of heavy non-fiction, this book is certain to give you a look into a time of such intense persecution. It may make you cry, it may make you smile at times but it will definitely make you think – and I think that’s crucial.

Rating: 5/5

Recommend?: Yes!!! This whole series is unmissable!

Have you read this book? What did you think? Have you read any of the books that in this series? I’d love to know!

You can always find me over on Instagram and Twitter if you’d like to discuss this book (or any others that I’ve featured) in more detail 😌

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