The Arrival is a migrant story told as a series of wordless images that might seem to come from a long forgotten time.
A man leaves his wife and child in an impoverished town, seeking better prospects in an unknown country on the other side of a vast ocean. He eventually finds himself in a bewildering city of foreign customs, peculiar animals, curious floating objects and indecipherable languages.
With nothing more than a suitcase and a handful of currency, the immigrant must find a place to live, food to eat and some kind of gainful employment. He is helped along the way by sympathetic strangers, each carrying their own unspoken history: stories of struggle and survival in a world of incomprehensible violence, upheaval and hope.
This is the second story of Felix and Zelda.
They escaped from the Nazis but how long can they now survive when there are so many people ready to hand them over for a reward?
Thanks to the courage of a kind, brave woman they are able to hide for a time in the open, but Felix knows he has a distinguishing feature that identifies him as a Jew.
9 year old Bruno lives in Berlin with his parents and 12 year old sister. His world is turned upside down when he is told that the family is moving from his beautiful home, away from his friends, to a strange place he calls “Out-With”, where a very important man called “The Fury” has sent his father to be in charge. Bruno dislikes Out-With and is very lonely, he can see from his bedroom window that there are lots of people living behind a big wire fence beyond his new home, and wonders why he can’t play with the children there.
He sets off exploring one day and encounters a boy sitting just within the wire fence, they strike up a conversation and begin a beautifully naïve and moving friendship that continues until Bruno makes the innocent but heartbreakingly tragic decision to join his friend on the other side of the fence.
John Dante is so enmeshed in WW II’s patriotic fever that he can hardly wait for his 18th birthday, in 1942, to enlist. Meanwhile, his sister, stricken with empathy and concern, is engaged to two soldiers and pregnant by a third; Dad, a nuclear physicist, is called from Pittsburgh to California for secret research; and John falls sweetly, ardently in love with pretty Ginny, who urges him to become a conscientious objector. To John, her fervent pacifism is incomprehensible; but as he endures active combat, without relief, until 1945, stereotypes give way to the reality of the enemy’s humanity, and Ginny’s ideas become clear. Still, after his long immersion in horror, John never communicates with her again-until a message at the end of this novel, narrated in 1992 when he’s a retired professor in Canada: “I want you to know that I am really alive. And I still love you.” Yet John has not been “alive” as he might have been: a lifelong solitary, he was even driven from his home by the war (“I could not stay in America because America had not suffered”). Rylant depicts-with some irony and much insight and compassion-the tragedy of young men putting aside their true selves and fighting in a war in which they ultimately lose faith.
Once I escaped from an orphanage to find Mum and Dad.
Once I saved a girl called Zelda from a burning house.
Once I made a Nazi with toothache laugh.
My name is Felix.
This is my story.
Everybody deserves to have something good in their life.
At least once.