I don’t even know what to say about The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Are there really enough words to explain just how amazing this book is? Are there words to describe the emotions evoked by the story? Anyway, if you haven’t yet read this beautiful book, read on and I will tell you about it. If you have read it already, I would love to hear your thoughts about it.
One thing that is quite unique and fascinating about this book is the narrator. This year I have come across a child narrator in Room by Emma Donoghue and a posthumous narrator in Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. Now for the first time, I have met death as a narrator. Yes, this story is actually narrated by death who is personified.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusais is a story about a young girl, Liesel Meminger who ends up on Himmel Street after the death of her brother on a train. Liesel is adopted by a lovely couple, Rosa and Hans Hubermann. Himmel Street is a simple neighborhood where kids play soccer, everyone knows everyone on the street and in times of crisis, the neighbors’ stick together.Liesel’s father adores her. He is always at her bedside whenever she has nightmares. He was the one who taught her to read( and roll cigarettes). I think it is also correct to say that he also taught her how to be human and how to love.
Liesel is the book thief, she starts by stealing a gravedigger’s manual and then proceeds to steal another book from a Nazi book burning ceremony and after that, she steals from the mayor wife’s library. The little girl finds comfort and hope in the pages of the books that she reads. She uses these books to get through all situations.However, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is not just about the little girl living on Himmel Street. The setting of the book is Nazi German in 1939 as the holocaust takes place. One day, a Jew turns up at the Hubermann resident seeking refuge. Years before that, another Jew had saved Han Hubermann’s life at war and now Hans has a chance to save this young man. It was definitely risky for Hans and his family to hide the Jew. However, the family was really drawn to him and especially Liesel, she learned to love him like a brother.
“I guess humans like to watch a little destruction. Sand castles, houses of cards, that’s where they begin. Their great skills is their capacity to escalate.”
― Markus Zusak, The Book Thief
One thing that you need to know about this book is that it will break your heart. The final pages will leave you in a state of confusion. You will feel lost and like me, you may find yourself thinking about the whole story from the beginning to the end. You will grasp at the memories, trying to hold on to them to make them last longer. Although categorized as a YA, I think that this book is suitable for adults too.
The character development is done really well. I also loved the well defined relationship dynamics. In particular, I enjoyed reading about the relationship between Liesel and her father, Hans. I also loved the friendship between Rudy and Liesel. Death as a character is also quite….endearing.
The Book Thief is definitely a moving story, one that I will never forget. There are many powerful scenes in the book. I think one of the most moving narrations is about Liesel and her encounter with Max when the Jews were being marched on the street. Another one was definitely the aftermath of the air raid on Himmel Street.
“Goodbye, Papa, you saved me. You taught me to read. No one can play like you. I’ll never drink champagne. No one can play like you.”
― Markus Zusak, The Book Thief
About the book
Title: The Book Thief
Author: Marcus Zasuk
Year of Publication: 2005
Adaptation: The Book Thief movie (2013)
Number of Weeks on the New York’s Bestseller List: 230