Title: The Book Thief
Author: Markus Zusak
Publisher: Knopf Books
Adult Content: harrowing subject
Keywords: WWII, Germany, Death, love, childhood
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. . . .
Narrated by Death, Markus Zusak's groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a young foster girl living outside of Munich in Nazi Germany. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she discovers something she can't resist- books. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor's wife's library, wherever they are to be found.
With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, Liesel 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.
Subject: I didn't read this book for the subject, but it's one of the reasons I love it so much. There's a lot about words and their power in The Book Thief, which is always something I love. And, of course, it's Second World War Germany - which was something I hadn't read about before. You don't hear about the story of civilian German life so much as you do about the Nazis or the Jews. So this was a bit of an eye-opener for me.
Storyline: The story isn't clever like some books. In fact, like the whole of the novel, it's rather understated. It's a bildungsroman - it follows Liesel from her childhood to adulthood, depicting everything about her life. It's very powerful and moving. It doesn't need an amazing storyline to be this good.
Characters: Like everything else in this book, I love the characters. They're unique and wonderful. I don't think I've ever found a character that surpassed Rosa or Hans Hubermann! I also especially like the character of Death, who narrates the novel - and is a surprisingly human character. But be warned - this book requires a large stack of hankies! I think I cried for about 20 pages straight...
Writing Style: This book is so beautifully written it's almost a poem. Zusak uses words and descriptions in new and unexpected ways: 'the sky began to charcoal towards light', describing one character as a wardrobe, and another as an accordion. It is truly a work of art. Some people find it contrived it's so well-written, but in my opinion, it's just perfect. (Of course, this does have a downside - whenever I read this book, I always find my own writing very drab and boring!!) But seriously - Zusak has got to be a genius.
Writing Style: *****
Summary: This book is beautiful and wonderful and tragic, all at once. It lingers in the mind of the reader far beyond the last page. Almost everything about this book is perfect. I doubt I will ever read a better written book. I think everyone should read it at least once in their life. At least.
Word Rating: a good-good book