Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"The Book Thief" {by Markus Zusak} Book Review

The Book Thief

Author: Markus Zusak

# of Pages: 552

Year Published: 2005

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Genre: Historical Fiction

Summary: 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. . . .
Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she 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 before he is marched to Dachau.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

Our Star Rating...

The women of Delicious Reads gave The Book Thief by Markus Zusak a 4.75 out of 5 rating.
Who better to narrate death than death itself? At first hearing, it seems quite strange but it played out so well in The Book Thief. Only by using death as the narrator could the author navigate through the tragic times of the Holocaust without making it too weighty or sad.
Through the grim reaper’s perspective, one could still acknowledge all the lives that were taken prematurely but also see the beautiful that occurred in between. He could encompass all without appearing cruel because of his disconnect to humans who “haunt” him. We applaud Markus in his unique and daring approach.
It was interesting to learn the author’s family had a personal connection to Nazi Germany. It also made more sense to some of us as to why such a young author was able to have so much depth, emotion and insight weaved through the pages of the book. Not to discredit the author, but it seems that this might have been a perfect storm so to say as far as books go. Everything aligned to create this tale that is both heartbreaking and beautiful.
Even though Markus exposed the end of the book in the beginning, he kept us engrossed throughout with beautiful imagery and poetry. One might think telling too much too soon would leave the book feeling a bit anticlimactic, but it had the exact opposite effect. Much like a funeral when you honor one’s life, we cherished the moments we spent with the characters because we knew they would die.
Many of our club members felt this credited Markus’s writing ability since he didn’t have to string the reader along with suspense. He pushed us so far into the book and lost us in the tale that most forgot he had even told us what would happen in the first chapters.

Kelly put it best when she said it was the first time she had read a book about this era that actually reflected how she felt. This is one of those books that mere pages could be discussed for hours and Mandi did such a fabulous jobs moderating.

One of the ideas we contemplated was the irony that while stealing is a sin and would technically keep Liesel out of heaven, stealing books was her salvation. The story perfectly portrays how words have the power to change people. While Liesel could have been persuaded by Hitler’s propaganda, she instead found and became her own “word shaker”. There is juxtaposition between Liesel's learning from the few books she is able to steal and read and other Germans who are brainwashed from Hitler’s propaganda.
Just as the books Liesel read had a powerful effect on her, The Book Thief did for me. It is definitely one I would steal! I don’t believe I have ever read a book that made my emotions heave and fro in such a way.

The words dragged me in and had the power to pull strong feelings that were very opposite. It happened in such a way that I loved it and wanted more. I found myself saddened by the injustices of life, laughing out loud over my favorite character Rudy and his lack of shame, proud over the good man Hans was and in love with witty Liesel even if she was a little Saumensch.

The Book Thief is definitely a delicious read!


Angie said...

Sandra! Thank you for doing this book justice with your review. I can tell that you loved the book, like I do. I'm trying to figure out how do you find more books like this? I felt like a sort of re-awakening because of this book. Heartbreakingly beautiful indeed, isn't that the BEST kind of beauty?

Kellie H said...

Beautifully written Sandra.

Karen said...

I loved your review! So well done and thought out. You have a gift with words!

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