Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Book #32: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Remember last time, when I told you the books that left me feeling like one giant ball of sadness, almost drowning in dramatic sobs and tears? This was one of them. In fact, I don't think I have ever cried this hard at a book of fiction before. Just thinking about it makes me feel like crying. I don't think I'd ever read a book more beautiful, unique and heartbreaking.

The most fascinating thing about the book, and what helps make it so unique and powerful is that it's narrated by Death. He (or It, I think) is an omniscent observer, who has decided to tell us the heartbreaking story of a young girl named Liesel, who lives in Germany during World War 2. After losing her mother and brother, she is adopted by two Germans, Hans and Rosa Bubermann . Her adoptive father is quiet but strong, her mother rough around the edges, but it's clear that they love each other, and Liesel, very much.

One night the local Nazis stage a book burning, and Liesel, fascinated and confused, sneaks in and steals one of the books about to be burned. It becomes her greatest treasure, and she becomes The Book Thief. A while later a knock comes in the middle of the night and Liesel must share in another secret: a runaway Jew named Max has come to ask the Hubermanns for a hiding place, and they take him in despite the great danger he represents for them

We see the events of the war unfold around the family, slowly and distantly at first, but becoming more and more real as the war progresses, right to their front door during the Allies' bombing of Germany. They're affected right from the start, when Liesel's father tries to join the Nazi party to protect his family, and when Liesel's best friend Rudy joins the Nazi Youth. It's a different, harrowing perspective and I was grateful for it.

The voice of Death is Zusak's greatest accomplishment in this book. Death is detached, seemingly emotionless at times, but there is a great, eternal sadness to the character. The writing is simple but incredibly beautiful and at times almost poetic.Every now and then a simple phrase would just break my heart.

I can't even find the proper words to describe how much this book moved me, and I'm afraid that the review isn't doing it justice. Even now I still feel the power of the story, and it's been a while since I read it. Almost as soon as I was done (after I finished sobbing my heart out, that is) I wanted to read it all over again. It's by far one of the best books I have ever read, and one that I'll recommend to everyone I know. I'll recommend they get a box of tissues to go with it.

1 comment:

mswas said...

I love this book so much, and I cried so hard too. I'm getting chills just reading your review.

Death tells you what's coming, but when you read it, it's just as powerful as if it were a surprise - or even more powerful.