Monday, June 14, 2010
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Wow. That's the perfect word for The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak. Yes, I loved the book. I thought it was brilliantly written, incredibly moving, and terribly devastating. This is the second book I've read that takes place during World War II and the Holocaust. Believe it or not, I have two more on tap for the year. Sometimes book themes come in waves, usually unintentionally. I figure I'm supposed to be learning something. I hope I do.
What makes The Book Thief different, and special, is that it is not the story of the soldiers. It isn't the story of the Jewish people. It's a story about a German family, trying to survive. Obviously I knew that not every German during that time period was a Nazi, but I rarely thought about the people living in a devastated country, led by an insane ruler.
The Book Thief is narrated by Death -who or what he is can be your interpretation. I choose to believe he was an angel of death, taking souls to some Heavenly processing center. Death is moved -as much as death can be- by a young girl named Liesel and he tells her story. Liesel's mother can not take care of her anymore due to her ties with the communist party. On the way to Munich, where Liesel and her brother will be placed in foster care, Liesel's brother dies. At his funeral, she spies a book in the snow and steals it, having no idea what it is called or what it's about.
Fortunately for Liesel, she is placed in a good home with good people. Sure Mama has a temper and a foul mouth. She still treats her new daughter with love. Papa is wonderful. He is warm and comforting to the girl plagued with nightmares of her brother's death. He gives her the greatest gift by teaching her to read. She makes friends, steals more books, and learns how important words are.
I don't want to give anything away so I won't go on but I will tell you to go read this book. It's a life changer.