Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Book Thief

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Wow... did this book do something to me. It took me a really long time to get into it- I would pick it up, and put it back down, and pick it up again for a month. There was nothing catching to me about the plot, the narrative is told in an unconventional way that is hard to get used to, and the story does not follow linearly....but somewhere after the 10th time I put it back down I found myself invested in the characters. The layers of depth of each character kept growing and growing- until they became these complex beings with real human emotions and reactions, something I could not tear myself away from. 

This story is narrated by Death- a spiritual being that hates war, hates suffering, and is reluctant to bring mass quantities of souls away from the Earth. Death has compassion and a heart that seems deeper than many humans- cares more about individuals than Hitler and the Nazis. Death is haunted by humans. Death becomes invested in the story of one girl- Liesel- who steals books just for the sake of learning. After being torn away from her biological family, she moved in with a foster mother and father during World War II. Her foster father had a love for humanity deeper than the ocean, for playing the accordion  and for rolling his own cigarettes. He saw right through the Nazi plot and cared for each individual person that he came in contact with.

 She also became best friends with a boy named Rudy, a boy content on saving the world and was passionate about justice. Together the went around town, going on adventures until they grew older, and their eyes were opened to the reality of war and hatred.

This story provides an alternate view of the Holocaust that is not usually portrayed. It comes from the viewpoints of the Germans, those Germans who were strong and stood up to the Nazis, but also lived in fear of the party's retribution. It displays the struggle between right and wrong, between saving yourself or loving your neighbor. 

This story, albeit somewhat difficult to read just because of how slow moving the plot was towards the beginning, left me in tears. I am not a big crier, but I felt so strongly for each of these characters and loved as they loved. This story goes beyond plot to look at the inner souls of each character and the struggles of humanity. If you are ready for a book to make you think, a book that will have you laughing one second, and two seconds later will have you crying...then go for it.