Meg’s Guest Review of “Maybe”

It’s 1946. Poland is in ruins after the Second World War. Happiness is scarce. A fourteen-year-old juvenile named Felix is stranded in his own mind. A prevailing addition to Morris Gleitzman’s Once series, Maybe follows directly after the novel Soon. Gabriek is the middle-aged guardian of both Felix and Anya who is a recalcitrant pregnant teen. They are hopelessly trying to clutch onto what’s left of Felix as he escapes to a foreign country.

After supposedly murdering a revenge-crazed Polish killer’s brother, Felix finds himself voyaging across the world in order to survive. With the experience of his partisan training, Felix performs field surgery on a wounded Australian soldier after fatal contact with a bullet. His heroic actions are recognised by an Australian named Ken, and he is given the opportunity to escape to Australia. Soon enough, Felix is traveling across the globe on a World War II Lancaster bomber and it doesn’t take long to discover an unwanted stowaway onboard. Anya smuggles herself onto the plane in an attempt to escape separation from her baby. What she didn’t know was that she was about to experience her first plane crash, “Below us on one wing there’s suddenly fire of a different color. Yellow and red flames, pouring out of both engines” (Maybe page 105). Even though the two teens survive, they are now stranded in a desolate Australian town.

Morris Gleitzman grasps the true meaning of determination, risk and optimism and embeds them into this novel. War and terror weave around his words, setting a fearful yet sanguine story. He explores themes of family and friendship, as well as the aftermath of war. Felix feels lost many times along his journey:

I stare through the Perspex for ages. It’s all there. My whole life. Getting smaller and smaller. I can’t actually see everything, all the places and all the people I’ve been lucky to have, but I can see them in my imagination. The orphanage. The cellar. The farm. The forest. All the places that have given me good protection. Mum, Dad, Zelda, Barney, Genia, Doctor Zajak, Yuli, Celeste, Gabriek, Anya. And now I’m leaving them all behind (Maybe Page 88).

This novel carries many important and beneficial traits. Morris has composed Maybe as if the reader is inside Felix’s mind and reading his thoughts. He is able to turn the Holocaust from a merciless topic into a cheerful and humorous one, which enables young readers to enjoy the novel. As well as captivating vocabulary that establishes the tone, this narrative possesses many plot twists which keeps the reader enthralled.            

Morris has hidden and weaved many morals and meanings into the novel Maybe. Optimism and perseverance are the most perceptible, but family connections and gratefulness are some apart of the hidden morals. Felix confronts many traumatic experiences during his lifetime but remains optimistic and finds the positive in every situation. Morris has authored this novel to express how important it is to be grateful for what you have while you have it because it could disappear within an instant. These values remain in place for the rest of someone’s life and are essential to teach at a young age.

His relationship blossoms over time with Gabriek, which he views as a father figure, as time passes by:

Gabriek looks hurt. “Felix,” says Anya. “Don’t be a jerk.” She’s right. Normally I’d say sorry to Gabriek for being rude and unkind. But I’m too upset. All the special people in my life except for Gabriek and Anya have gone. Gabriek said we’re in this together. Two days ago he said it (Maybe page 67).

Gabriek treats Felix like his own son and genuinely cares for him even though they argue. This strengthens the story’s moral on family connections. When they part, Felix feels lost and lonely since Gabriek isn’t there to ease his anxiety and comfort him. This relationship benefits the two characters and the story significantly. Anya and Felix undergo a slightly undiscovered romantic relationship. Felix unearths subtle feelings for Anya and admires her courage and bravery throughout the story. Felix never expresses these feelings, so they remain friends.

Gleitzman demonstrates similar characterization, theme and styles of writing as the other novels in the Once series. Mostly desperate and hopeful, he has written it through the eyes of Felix which is a vastly impressive skill. Morris Gleitzman has composed this novel to explain the importance of continuing positivity in bleak situations to youthful readers. It holds many essential lessons that are portrayed creatively through writing.

A pandemic named COVID-19 is currently devastating many people around the world and many more are passing away from the fatal disease. In the novel, Felix experiences many disturbances far worse than a pandemic but still springs back with even more enthusiasm and optimism. Many people can currently relate to feelings of disorientation and uncertainty, which is exactly what Felix experiences throughout his voyage. Morris Gleitzman articulates this novel to relate to anyone around the world.

To conclude, Maybe demonstrates how someone can confront so many false hopes and still be able to recover. Morris Gleitzman authors this novel to be optimistic even though the topic is so sour, which enables many young readers to enjoy it, even at its darkest times. Many children can learn not only about the history of our world but how to remain positive when conditions are bleak.

Published by Julia Archer

Julia is a world traveler, a writer of adult and teen fiction, and a keen photographer and reader.

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