Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Words can hardly give this book review justice. But if it's any indication, I'd like to purchase the novel since I read the library's copy. Certainly, I'd read it over and over again, for it's brilliant prose and heartbreaking story. Of course, I will not let my family alone until each one of them has read it as well. Because it's simply too important.

This historical fiction takes place in the heart of Nazi Germany-with our protagonist, Leisel, merely 13, a foster child, being raised on the poor side of the town of Molching. While the tale is full of colorful characters (complete with rude yet lovable neighbors) and with animated language (peppered with German insults), it's also fraught with danger since Leisel's foster family is hiding a Jew. Oh - and of course, the tale comes equipped with a full-scale villain. Amazingly, author Zusak didn't have go very far into the depths of his imagination to create him. Adolph Hitler actually lived.

Of course, this story is sad. How can it not be? We all know the tragedy and horror that took place in World War II. (Did I mention the narrator is Death? He really seems quite endearing.) However, there is much beauty in this book. One of the themes that struck me most has to do with the power of words. Of course, Hitler used words to bring together an economically depressed country to obliterate an ethnicity in the most dastardly of ways. But there were a few quiet and courageous ones, like Liesel who used words in only the best of ways. And while "The Book Thief" seems a negative connotation, it wasn't for Leisel Memminger who was only attempting to keep true to herself in Nazi Germany.  Eventually, words, reading, and books helped Liesel  to save others and their sense of themselves in the darkest of times.

This book is listed in the Young Adult genre. My hope is that our youth will take a break of vampires for this one - it's an important piece of literature. It's very deserving of the awards and accolades it has received. And it was very deserving of my tears that I shed when the cruelty and heartbreak of World War II became real. Sometimes we forget what happened. Words won't let us forget.

1 comment:

Rubi J said...

I loved this book also. Though, I'd
have to admit it took me several chapters to get into it. But then, the story and the prose lead me into an emotional journey not to be forgotten.