The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak
AR Level 5.1, 18 points
This is a must read. I had heard of the movie, and usually I go out and get any book that is based on a movie, but I didn’t do it then. I should have. I could have read this book for the second time instead of the first.
I went through a period where I read everything about the Holocaust I could find. I read all of the classics- Diary of Anne Frank, The Hiding Place, Number the Stars, etc. In college, I had to read Survival at Auschwitz, and that started my obsession again. It’s a depressing topic to read about, but fascinating at the same time. Sometimes I feel guilty for wanting to read about it and wanting to visit a concentration camp. It’s a devastating piece of history that we should never forget, and good literature like The Book Thief will make sure that never happens.
So on to the book… this is a story of a young girl in Nazi Germany (I LOVE that it’s from a different perspective- usually we read about the Jews’ perspective instead of the Nazis’). She is abandoned by her mother after watching her brother die (I assumed it was a mercy abandonment due to the war). Liesel did not know how to read in the beginning, but stole her first book at her brother’s funeral. When she arrives at her foster family’s home near Munich, she does not immediately warm up to Rosa and Hans, but soon forms a strong bond with Hans (Papa). Papa teachers her to read, plays his accordion, and shows her unconditional love. She also finds friendship with several others… her best friend Rudy, the Jew they are hiding, the mayor’s wife, and the crotchety old woman next door. She finds an even stronger friendship with books, and starts collecting (and stealing) them.
Long story (550 pages long) short, we get to see what it was like for a young girl to grow up in poverty in Nazi Germany during World War II in a family that did not agree with the Nazi Party. We see the ups and downs of her friendships. We learn to cuss in German (I swear, I walked around calling people Saumensch and Saukerl in my head all week long). We see the power that words have, both back then and in our own lives. Liesel is a survivor, both literally and figuratively, and we find out how true that is in the end.
Oh, and did I tell you the narrator of the book is Death, himself? A very cynical, different Death than we’ve read or watched in other media in the past.
What I liked about this book was the change that Liesel went through. She had these powerful relationships that formed her as a person. She was able to write about her life experiences and they helped her grow. She didn’t just see the world as a poor girl in Nazi Germany. Each cloud, book, argument, etc. affected her and made her who she was, good and bad, and she was able to touch the lives of others. This book helped me see that Nazi Germany wasn’t 100% evil that we normally read about- people were people, and not everyone agrees with their government.
What I didn’t like about this book was crying like a baby. But that’s what happens when you get attached to characters, and then you have to say good-bye to them. It’s no fun being reminded by your husband that it’s just a book, because when you’re reading about this girl’s life, it’s not just a book.
Thanks, Denise, for recommending and lending me the book!
Book 16 of 52 (slacker!!!)