Every once and awhile, a book comes along that is so fantastic that you just don’t know how to go on with your life when it is over. For me, this was “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak. It is a book that changes you when you read it.
“The Book Thief” is told from a unique perspective. The story is told by Death and the story he tells is of a girl he has run into a few times. The story he tells is hers. We meet Liesel when she is on her way to a foster home. She is on a train with her mother and little brother. It is the first time that Death meets Liesel, when he comes to collect her brother. “Yes, the sky was now a devastating, home-cooked red. The small German town had been flung apart one more time. Snowflakes of ash fell so loveily you were tempted to stretch out your tongue to catch them, taste them. Only, they would have scorched your lips. They would have cooked your mouth.” (The Book Thief, pg 13). Throughout the story, Death remembers the colors that he sees and it creates a very visual story telling that I couldn’t help but be captivated by.
Death takes the time to tell Liesel’s story despite the fact that war is a very busy time for him. It was very different reading about WWII from the perspective of Death. It was horrible and fascinating all at the same time.
Liesel becomes a book thief for the first time when she is putting her brother in the ground. The first book that she steals is “The Gravedigger’s Handbook” and she does it almost unconsciously when she sees the book dropped in the snow. Thus begins her life of crime. Her passion for books builds greatly as she discovers the freedom in reading. She also discovers the power that books have and she shares this when she can. “Where Hans Hubermann and Erik Vandenburg were ultimately united by music, Max and Liesel were held together by the quiet gathering of words.” (The Book Thief, pg 248).
Part of what I enjoyed so much about this book is the way I was able to relate to Liesel so well. The way that she feels about books is exactly how I feel about books. I could totally see myself in her shoes. She is a very likable character. “She said it out loud, the words distributed into a room that was full of cold air and books. Books everywhere! Each wall was armed with overcrowded yet immaculate shelving. It was barely possible to see the paintwork. There were all different styles and sizes of lettering on the spines of the black, the red, the gray, the every-colored books. It was one of the most beautiful things Liesel Meminger had ever seen.” (The Book Thief, pg 134). This is frequently how I feel when let loose in a bookstore or my personal library.
Would I recommend this book? Most definitely, it was such a good read. I really admire how Markus Zusak writes and I look forward to reading more of his work. I think that reading “The Book Thief” made me see just how war affects the individual. It’s quite different to read about a girl who had the war happen around her as she grew up. How differently it affected her and those she knew. The uncertainties that she was forced to live with. The fear. And through all these trials, she found solace in reading. It was a fantastic read.