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Now (Once/Now/Then/After) by Morris Gleitzman

October 27, 2016

noqThe abrupt jump in time from the previous book is disorientating. Now we have mobile phones, before we were in World War 2. However, I can see quite vividly, in my mind’s eye, the places that the author describes.

It was exciting.

I had to look up ‘esky’ = an Australian brand of portable coolers and ‘ute’ = an abbreviation for “utility” or “coupé utility” – is a term used originally in Australia and New Zealand to describe usually two-wheel-drive, traditionally passenger vehicles with a cargo tray in the rear integrated with the passenger body; as opposed to a pickup whose cargo tray is not integrated with the passenger body.

Now, Felix is a grandfather. He has achieved much in his life and is widely admired. He has mostly buried the painful memories of his childhood, but they resurface when his granddaughter Zelda comes to stay with him

Zelda Mark II isn’t having an easy time of it. She’s missing her parents terribly and although she knows they are doing important work in the refugee camps, she can’t help but feel abandoned. She’s being bullied at her new school. And, perhaps most of all, she’s finding it very difficult to live up to her name. Zelda Mark I was brave and bright and heroic – and since she didn’t make it to Australia like Felix, she’s taken on an iconic status in everybody’s mind. Quite how this younger Zelda can live up to that, she just can’t imagine. Even though NOW is firmly set in the present, there are constant reminders of Felix’s past experiences.  Zelda has some idea of his past but has been sheltered from the more brutal episodes.  She loves her Grandfather dearly but seems to inevitably end up getting into scrapes despite her best intentions

now-2Felix is equally haunted by the past, and his own imagined failings during that terrible time.

And then a vicious bushfire sweeps Australia, burning all in its path. Can Felix and Zelda seize its flames as an opportunity to cleanse their fears and guilts, or will it burn them up for good?

ONCE  I didn’t know about my grandfather Felix’s scary childhood.

THEN I found out what the Nazis did to his best friend Zelda.

NOW I understand why Felix does the things he does. At least he’s got me. My name is Zelda too. This is our story.

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