Sunday, February 15, 2015
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Despite the emphasis and importance of words that this book brings, I am at a lack for them right now, as I write this review. A page of notes hovers before me, and the book itself, still warm from my intent gaze, sits beside me. Still I can’t find the correct words to start this review. For me, such a book deserves more than this review can offer. Nonetheless, I want to share my opinion, so I suppose I should start by saying that The Book Thief was a nearly flawless story, one I can only wish I had picked up sooner.
Following a young girl named Liesel during Nazi Germany, this is a book about life, as told by Death. Instantly, this unique narrative captured me. I found the straight forward speech of the narrator fitting for such a story. It gave the writing a slightly broken feeling, which is very similar to the way people’s thoughts flow. With the use of colors, the beginning is able to convey such vivid descriptions in very few words. The writing never loses its potency as the story goes on. It is simply gorgeous, easily invoking an accurate mood and setting. Perfectly crafted metaphors add to this as well. The dialogue, though minimal, was also very potent and important.
Despite the starkness of the narration, despite the blatant foreshadowing told in flashes forward and back, it never takes away from the emotion and shock of what happens. The plot continues on at a constant speed. Even though we are interrupted many times along the way, the book reads quite quickly, while still giving the reader enough time to absorb everything.
The lovely and terrible snippets of Liesel’s childhood were woven together to portray a beautiful story of what is was like for her growing up during Nazi Germany. During this time, she forms strong relationships with several important people, who help sculpt her life. All of the characters were really pleasant to read about, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. One of them is her Papa, Hans Hubermann, who is a smart and gentle man that teaches Liesel how to read. He shows his strength throughout the story by constantly questioning the society he exists in, and taking risks to help others. The biggest risk he takes is by helping a young Jewish man named Max. While staying in the Hubermann’s house, Max and Liesel become close friends due to a common interest in reading and writing. Though Max has been through lots of hardship, an innocence and wisdom remains in him, which is shown through his illustrated stories. Along with her personal growth throughout the book, Liesel’s best friend Rudy also grows. During such a time, he is forced to grow up quickly, going from a carefree and wild boy to a caring and watchful young man. The growth of each character was subtle, shown through small, and large, acts throughout the story. Their choices and actions shaped who they became.
There is another relationship Liesel forms which is one of the most important aspects of the book- her relationship with books. From the start, Liesel’s interest in books gives the novel a warm, cozy feeling, which progresses as she learns how to read and steals more books. It inspires me to want to read more, to push the boundaries with writing, and to learn as much as possible. I also found Liesel’s feelings toward books and words very relatable, a sort of love hate relationship with them that I’m sure every reader has felt.
Though slightly dark at times, The Book Thief was a beautifully written book. The addition of Max’s illustrated stories gave the book a needed childlike quality, among its somber plot. With its unpredictable and emotional ending, this book will leave you yearning to keep reading it for much longer than it lasts. I loved everything about this novel, and will undoubtedly pick it up time and time again.