Published by Alfred A. Knopf on Sept 18, 2007
Genres: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Buy the Book • Goodreads
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.
In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger, has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.
Another book on the Holocaust. The last book I read which was set during the same time was The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne. Such books are always sad and get the readers all worked up with all its horror and misery. Makes you relieved that you didn’t have to go through all of it.
I was sobbing away while reading the ending of The Book Thief. Yes, this book has that effect on you especially if you’re an emotional kind of person. I don’t wish to reveal the ending but I’ll tell you the beginning.
This book received a lot of attention and praises that I had really high expectations from it. However, the first 50 or 60 pages didn’t impress me much. I wasn’t used to the odd, short paragraphs and short sentences. But as I went on, the reading became enjoyable and I found myself lost in Liesel’s story.
As most of us who have already read or have an idea on what the book’s about, the narrator is Death. Death? Sounds frightening and morbid, don’t you think? Actually, it’s anything but that. Death sounds kind of melancholic and it’s (or he???) obsessed with talking about colours. I did not care about the colours though. Also, it’s not a totally depressing book. There are parts that can make you laugh too. Seriously, Death can also joke.
Okay, so I read about Liesel’s story. She’s the book thief because she steals books so she can read them later. While travelling to Munich with her mother and brother on a train, her brother dies. He was only six. Liesel would be sent to live with foster parents at Himmel Street. That was in 1939. She does not meet her mother again.
Liesel’s foster parents are Hans and Rosa Hubermann. Hans is a really cool and kind foster father. The total opposite of his loud-mouthed, cursing wife, Rosa. Because of his caring and calm nature, Liesel warms up to him. He comforts her when she wakes up from recurring nightmares of her dead brother and he teaches her to read after those nightmares. He’s like the father she never had.
Anyway, Liesel makes new friends with the kids from her neighbourhood, particularly with her neighbour, Rudy Steiner, who obviously likes Liesel a lot and is always asking her for a kiss whenever the opportunity seems right. Rudy and Liesel become best friends and they always go on stealing sprees together.
I guess my favourite character in the book would be Max Vandenburg. He’s a Jew and with the Hubermanns’ help and permission, he hides in their basement. He feels sorry for putting them to so much trouble but they can’t turn away a man whose father once saved Hans’ life. The sub-chapter, “Liesel’s Lecture”, was an emotional one. It’s where Hans tries to make Liesel understand the danger of spilling out an absolutely dangerous secret, which will ultimately cause unpleasant events.
Liesel and Max, they too become friends. Liesel would find newspapers for him to read and do crossword puzzles. They would sit together in the basement, each doing their own reading. They share a strong bond and you could feel Liesel’s sadness and sorrow when they’re separated later.
All in all, it’s a riveting and keeps you glued to the pages kind of book. It does not have a strong introduction but if you keep on reading, you won’t regret it. Of course, I assume that you’ll keep on reading to find out what happens to all the characters. Read the book and I hope you’ll like it like I do.