The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Processed with VSCO with hb2 presetTitle: The Book Thief
Author: Markus Zusak
Pages: 552
Year: 2006
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Rating: 5/5

Goodreads Synopsis: It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

The Book Thief was so incredibly unique to anything else that I have ever read, simply because it was narrated by Death.I expected Death to be a dark and morbid voice, but he actually cast an illuminating light on one of the darkest times in human history.

I do not carry a sickle or a scythe.
I only wear a hooded black robe when it’s cold.
And I don’t have those skull-like
facial features you seem to enjoy
pinning on me from a distance. You
want to know what I truly look like?
I’ll help you out. Find yourself a mirror while I continue.

Giving Death human like qualities and shattering our commonplace perceptions of death was a bit discontenting for me, it is so much easier to deal with death as a distant and inhuman concept rather than one of the most human things you will ever do. However, Death has some incredibly insightful observations and dry humor that no other character could have brought into the story. He has no patience for mystery either, although the anticipation of what is to come makes it so much worse. Death drops several bombs throughout the story that don’t happen until much later, and I was on the edge of my seat just waiting and hoping that they wouldn’t actually happen.

This isn’t the first book that I have read about this side of World War II. However, Death does a good job of making us feel compassion and sorrow for people who have been dubbed by history as evil. Some of the characters in The Book Thief are members of the Nazi party, willing or otherwise, and view Jews as no better than rats. Others are hiding Jews in their basements. Others still are innocent children. But they are still human, and are we any better if we do not feel sorry for them?

Final thoughts: I definitely recommend this to everyone. The movie doesn’t give it justice, so if you have seen the movie and have never read the book I highly highly recommend it.

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