Monday, March 17, 2014

The Book Thief

5 Stars
Author: Markus Zusak
Review Contains Some Spoilers

This is not your average novel. For example, Death is the narrator. Death is not cocky or the black hooded figure everyone envisions. The Book Thief starts in 1939 and ends a few years later--some of the biggest body count years for Europe and frankly the entire world. Death has a lot of work---and does it with sadness and dignity.
Death's co-narrator is Liesel, a very much alive foster girl. Her mother sends her to live with an older aged couple as the war is stirring. The Book Thief is a classic coming of age story. Liesel learns how to love a new family, make friends and read. She also steals books. A book lost right after her brother's burial. A book taken from a former employer's home. A book partially ruined and doomed to death for being written by a Jew. Each of these tales integrate themselves into the story. The biggest struggle Liesel faces involves the Jewish man her family hides. As they become best friends and go on the greatest book adventures together the dangers become greater. Liesel, her family and even entire town could be killed for hiding the Jew, regardless who is for Hitler or not.
What I liked the most about this book was how the characters were written. We have Liesel's beloved papa, a man whose own son turned against him for never embracing the Nazi Germany'd principles. Liesel's adopted mother, a tough and often cursing woman, grows to love her adopted daughter. Not everyone in the small town are as likable or as humane which is fine with me. I can picture countless towns like the one in The Book Thief , each character adds something to the story.

I'm sure the infamous ending is what really gets to readers. I know it tore me up. I won't give away much but I feel like I should have seen it coming. Then again the book portrays one of the simplest messages about war: sacrifices can help a person survive--as well as die. People also live on. Death and Liesel can both attest to that.

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