Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Book Thief [Zusak]

Book: The Book Thief
Author: Markus Zusak
Reason for Reading: recommended by friend
Genre: Fiction
Summary: The book follows Liesel, a nine-year old German girl during WWII, as she falls in love with books, words and thievery. We are introduced to her foster family, friends, and life in Germany under Nazi rule. Her world is turned upside down when her family hides a Jew in their basement.

Christine's Review: Simply put, this book was excellent. It is a haunting tale with varying themes of abandonment, friendship, sacrifice, loss and love. Although marketed as a young adult book in the US, this book is without question a great read for adults (in fact, it is marketed as an adult book in Australia, the author's home country).

You would be hard pressed to watch the History Channel these days to catch a program that is not about WWII and/or Nazi Germany. It is easy to assume we know everything there is to know about this tragic time and thus pass on a book that (we assume) recycles previous told stories. In lieue of a traditional narrator, the story unfolds from Death itself. You are probably thinking: Death as the narrator? It seems so depressing. However, Zusak is a skilled author who is able to draw in readers and paint a vivid picture of German life with a combination of love, fear and sacrifice.

First, let's address Death. Using this non-traditional narrator, Zusak is able to unfold the story of Liesel while linking her story to historical events seamlessly. Death is simply doing its job of collecting souls around the world.

I don't want to add too many plot details for those of you will plan to read this, but I will say that the characters are vivid and detailed. We are presented with (some) German citizens who tried to do the right thing under difficult circumstances. We catch a glimpse of what life was like for children growing up during this time and how they strove for normalcy when life around them was crumbling.

Overall, this book is a tale of family, friendship and love. It is an emotional read that is worth it.

Book Junkie's Grade: A