Thursday, March 1, 2012
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
If you like: books * family * sorrow
In The Book Thief, Death tells us the story of Liesel, a German girl who uses the strength of words to sustain herself and her family during World War II. Liesel moves in with her foster parents, the Hubermanns, at the beginning of the story. The Hubermanns treat her well, and give her the best life they can. One of the things her new Papa, Hans, gives her is the gift of words. Previously uneducated, Liesel struggles to read and write. Through a slow and beautiful process, she learns to read and to appreciate the power of words. She uses those words to bond with the townspeople and find a place for herself in a difficult world.
Reading is not the only lesson that Liesel learns. Her best friend, Rudy, is bold and unapologetic. He does not fold to peer pressure or bullies, but remains his own person, and lives his life to its fullest. Rosa Hubermann teaches Liesel that there are many ways to say, “I love you.” Sometimes a gruff personality and harsh words can be endearing. Hans Hubermann teaches Liesel to be thankful for every opportunity she is given, and always help anyone who has helped her. The people of Molching, just outside Munich, may say “heil Hitler,” but many have misgivings about the war. Death visits Molching many times, and his pain in the narration is stirring.
Recently, my aunt gave my a copy of my Christmas list from 1995, and it contained a request for “historical fiction.” This is exactly the book eleven-year-old me was looking for. Having just read Stepping on the Cracks, I was looking to read more from the juvenile World War II genre. Though this book encompasses the horror and loss of the war, there are also many lighter moments. This is not just a war story, but a human story. Out of context, the hardships many of the characters face are very relatable. No matter what the time period, an individual’s pain can be incredibly isolating.
If you’ve got sticky fingers and can’t wait to get them on your next book, grab The Book Thief.
Zusak, Markus. "The Book Thief" (Markus Zusak). New York: Random House, 2005. Kindle Edition.