Words have convoluted themselves in my mind only to leave me utterly speechless. This is the beauty of The Book Thief. It is one of the few books one must read at least once in a lifetime.
It is the time of Herr Fuhrer. In the narrow streets of Molching, Liesel Meminger learned what a young girl like her could to live under the gaze of her foster parents, unruly neighborhood kids, the German sky and Hitler: stealing books.
Meanwhile, Death is kept busy gathering out souls as the sky shifted colors on every impending death before his very eyes. Thus begins this story as told by Death about this little book thief who, at first, could not know how to read. As she learns to read, under the help of her accordion-playing foster father, and the words start to make sense in Liesel's mind, she has yet to know what stealing books will bring her unto.
There are books I have mentioned before that breaks my heart into pieces, but not of ripping my soul in two. This book is but one. Death, as narrator, with his dry humor and brilliant epiphanies makes for easy yet painful reading like a slow moving silent water with strong undercurrents. In his manners, he could almost be that friend who drops soliloquies behind your shoulder. The book is vibrant of characters who will win your heart, sympathy and loathing and other things. In the end the acceptance of them being human just explains it more to you.
The Book Thief is full of painterly words, a crushing poetry borne out of deep-seated emotions and sharp realities. It is about many things; about war and books and friendship. It is also about humanity, their beauty and their cruelties. It is about death and its bringer; death in body, death in spirit.
I could hardly give justice, I think. Markus Zusak is such a sweeping revelation to me. Pages hit me in the solar plexus and I could hardly breathe from one realization after the other. I am left agape with no words to utter.
It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.
Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who 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.
Title: The Book Thief
Author: Markus Zusak
Genre: Historical, Young Adult
Publisher: Black Swan
Rating: ♨♨♨♨♨ (5 cups - A literary gem, with a feel of poetry and texture on its words. It will make you laugh and cry at the same time be amazed by the beauty of humanity and death.)