It is a WWII story, but is singular in the way it is about a young German girl who never sets foot in a concentration camp or has to spend her days in hiding. That is not to say Liesel, the main character, has an easy time of it. She steals apples for something to eat while being gently haunted by her dead little brother. She sends dozens of letters to a mother who will never reply. Her adoptive father tries to join the Nazi party to protect his family from suspicion all the while hiding a Jew in his basement.
Life is not easy.
Narrated by Death, THE BOOK THIEF is littered with dark humor and scraps of shockingly beautiful imagery. Zusak has a way of painting a picture or thought that makes you stop and just sit there for a moment thinking.
Although she lives in a completely different world, Leisel is ultimately relatable. You care about her, from her every day trials to major crisis’s. Life during the Second World War is laid before you, clear and harsh, all centered around a girl who struggles to collect books while those around her burn them.
THE BOOK THIEF will break your heart and then slowly weld it back together again.
The tentative mini-romance existing between Liesel and her best friend Rudy is a burst of sweet innocence in a world consumed by turmoil. This is not a book that tries to say something or a have a moral. This is the story of a kid forced to live in a world that we couldn’t imagine. Yet, along the way it manages to give you a thousand little messages you’ll never forget. This is a book that creeps its way into your mind and unpacks its socks.
All of the supporting characters have depth and a purpose of some sort, although it may not always be immediately apparent. They seem real and alive even if just mentioned in passing. You feel for a woman that solely exists in one paragraph and have no idea why afterwards.
This is a story of regret and triumph, sorrows and joys, but above all it is a story of life.