Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

I made it!
It took me 2+ weeks to read it, yikes!  But really, that's more normal than it used to be since I have been managing 'lights out' closer to 10:30pm than 2:30am - go me!  
My only real objection to the book is that it is categorized Young Adult.  I guess I could see it as a high school English assignment. I traipsed through Crime and Punishment, Lord of the Flies, Tess of the d'Urberville, Jane Eyre and more in my Senior year, but then again, I wouldn't consider them 'Young Adult' either, but I guess they could be.  Honestly, I don't know.  Maybe I'm not giving the 'YA' group enough credit, or maybe in the ten years since I was in high school I have digressed.  
No matter, here I sit at 28, just having read an excellent, albeit hard to categorize novel!
The prologue had me stumped.  I almost cast it aside as 'not the book for me.'  Clearly the narrator was Death, which fascinated me to no end!  Maybe for that reason alone I continued reading, but I had NO IDEA what he was talking about...  A lot about colors, and the sky, and collecting souls.  The book started for me a couple of chapters in, somewhere around the time Liesel arrives at her new home on Himmel Street.  Of course by then she has already lost her brother and mother and has stolen her first book, so what do I know?

First Line: First the colors.
my First Line: Whoever named Himmel Street certainly had a healthy sense of irony.

Set in Nazi Germany 1939-mid forties, nine-year-old Liesel Meminger loses her communist parents to Hitler, her brother to Death, and her illiteracy to words and begins life again with the Hubermanns in Molching.  She is haunted by nightmares and bed-wetting and in the dark morning hours while her sheets dry, she is taught to read by her foster Papa.  The first book she read was also the first book that she stole, The Grave Diggers Handbook 
The Book Thief is about words:  about Liesel learning to read one word at a time; about Hitler using words to take over his world; about words being burned in Nazi fires, and words being saved from the fire by a thief.  Liesel discovers that because of all of these reasons she both loves and hates words.
The story is both heart-warming and heart-breaking.  It's inspiring to read of Germans during such a dangerous time, begrudgingly doing their mandatory 'Heil Hitlers,' hesitating to display the colors of the Nazi flag, muttering disrespect under their breath about their Führer, being whipped for sneaking a crust of bread to a prisoner headed to a consecration camp, and sacrificing everything to hide a Jew.
While reading my mind kept swimming with stories, plots, and situations from my only other sources of information about Nazi Germany, World War II, and the Holocaust: The Sound of Music, A Beautiful Mind, The Hiding Place, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story. I'm sad, I know.  History was always my weakest subject and at the bottom of my interests list (along with current events and anything political really). I'm doomed.  Good thing I enjoy reading so that once in awhile a book like this can sneak it's way into my fun and floofy mindless reads and really make me stop and think.

1 comment:

Rachael said...

I was planning to review this book. I loved it. Of course I love any book that makes me think. As much as I loved it though, I was disappointed with the choppiness of the writing. But then again, that's what gave it character. Loved it!

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