May 22, 2013
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Author: Markus Zusak
First published: 2005
Add it: Goodreads, The Book Depository
This amazing book made me cry for an hour yesterday night, although I was supposed to be asleep or at least to be prepared for the ending. But I still cried because even though you have an idea how things were at that dismal time in that dismal part of the world, reading Zusak (or should I rather say Death?) telling it is a very different thing.
Yes, Death is a narrator in the book, and a very implacable one. Usually the first thing the reader knows about a character is that he will die soon. And that is one of the things that make this book so amazing: you know it all from the beginning. You are not expecting miracles, you are not expecting anything, actually, but you keep reading not for the ending, but for the words.
Words play a great role in the book. Words is what matters most in the end: they can form a nation, they can kill and humiliate, but they can also support, console and save lives. Liesel learns reading from her foster father, which makes them close friends, and she keeps reading through repressions and war, and her reading calms people in the bomb shelter, brings a dying man back to life and helps the ones who have lost someone to the war live further.
Although most of the characters are known to die soon, they seem more than alive through the book. The reader is invited to meet people living on Himmel street, a poor area of Molching, Germany in the times when Death had a lot of work to do: 1938-1944. And it takes all this time and even more to really understand who is who deep inside. And thanks to the imaginative and compelling language and composition of the book, this exploration is fascinating.
Please don't be put off by this humble review and don't discard this book as too grim and depressing. It is not. The book puts everything right and the consolation is there is you look carefully. And looking carefully is what you should really do with this book!