Always by Morris Gleitzman is the final book in the series about Felix Salinger. Harrowing, heart-breaking but ultimately, heartwarming. Powerful, haunting and totally unforgettable.

Posted: September 13, 2021 in Intermediate, Primary School, Secondary
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Always

By Morris Gleitzman

ISBN 9780143793243

Penguin Books

I don’t know where to start here. I am feeling a whole range of emotions after reading the seventh and final book in the series about Felix Salinger.

Author, Morris Gleitzman has diligently, and powerfully told us the story of Felix, a young Jewish boy who escaped an orphanage in order to save his parents. His naivety was obvious but through the different books, he grew to understand the world around him. A world of hatred, war, racism but his own strength was always kindness and hope. From the first book I have followed every journey he has been on. I have read his stories as he grew into a young man, and then as he grew old. I have worried about Felix, I have cried for Felix but mostly, I have loved Felix. Even after 15 years since the first book Once was published, I remember him because he feels like someone I really know. He feels like a long-time friend, and now he feels like a grandfather. Despite everything Felix has been through, he remains kind, caring, strong but always with a touch of sadness that only people who have been through what he has, will ever understand. I know Felix is fictional, but he is so real to me and his impact will stay with me always.

His story throughout the series, is often harrowing with death, war, loss, grief, but the books are compelling. You can’t put them down in case you miss something.

In this final book, Felix is now a retired doctor and an old man, and his granddaughter Zel (named after Zelda, the young girl whose death has haunted him all his life) is heading off soon to study and follow in his footsteps to become a doctor. One day there is a knock at his door and he is greeted by Wassim, a young boy who hands him a note and tells him he needs his help. A young boy who knows war too, just a different war. A long ago connection to his past has put them together for a reason but that brings danger. It also shakes up the past and after a series of terrible events, Felix and Wassim follow some clues, board a plane and return to where Felix’s story first began. More danger follows them but they become stronger together and soon they are not just fighting for survival today, but fighting ghosts from the past.

Both Felix and Wassim narrate different chapters, each giving us a sense of their own fears and thoughts, but also observations of each other. This allows us to see their vulnerabilities, but also their strengths. As their stories unwind, the two grow to care for each other, support each other and need each other.

I don’t want to give things away, but if you have read the other books, you really need to read Always. It is harrowing, heartbreaking but heartwarming. Everyone needs a Felix Salinger in their life.

You will need tissues. Lots of tissues, but that is as it should be. Felix and his friends, his story, his life, is unforgettable. He will stay with me always.

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