Subversive Offering On Human Tragedy To Provide Wonderful Perspective
The human race has proven to be, all at once, terribly atrocious and profoundly lovely. Unfortunately for Death (the narrator of this story), as one of the major distresses of the job, he is inevitably present for all of the former and VERY little of the latter. Particularly, in Nazi Germany, Death is an extremely busy witness to fear, anger, despair, genocide and, as a result, is terrified of humans.
However, in this setting of consternation and darkness, Mr. Zusak centers the story of The Book Thief around a tale of kindness, enduring love, personal and familial strength as well as a blinding glimpse of the unspeakable ability of the human spirit to persevere. As one reads this richly ambitious novel, there will be moments within the emotional experience of the reader destined to enlighten, sadden, encourage and devastate. Those who finish The Book Thief, will surely understand (and be thankful) why Death embraced Leisel Meminger's story as an act of hope and empathy to share with all of us; just as Leisel would do.
Not-So-Bebe-Girl Autumn read this one first. Within the first few
pages, she was inspired to write a poem. If you'd like, you can read it here.
I've seen a lot of comments on my posts while I was in the process of
reading this that say, "I've had this on my shelves; I'm just not sure
about reading it ... look at the subject matter."
I say, "Read it; you won't regret it." If you look at all of those awards it's won, you'd be astounded.? There's a really good reason for them; this book is fantastic.
My problem comes when I think, "How do I review a book that has been reviewed in so many ways by so many different people?"
We have a bittersweet story about a German girl named Liesel. The story
is narrated by Death, which seems macabre, but isn't. Actually, I felt
a kind of sympathy for him; he's just doing his job (after all, who
else is going to do it?), and he takes special care with young ones and
ones that he feels shouldn't be on their way with him.
Death tells Liesel's story .. of being put in the care of foster parents
by her sad and tired mother ... of the death of Liesel's little brother
on the way (this is not a spoiler, as this is how the book starts, and
the first time Death meets Liesel, who, for some reason, piques his
curiosity-we see how he keeps tabs on her throughout the years). Her
first theft of a book is at her brother's graveside.
We have a girl who didn't know how to read being taught by her kind,
accordion-playing foster father Hans. Her foster mother Rosa is gruff
and calls both Liesel and her husband names, but that is her way of
loving them. There is the next-door neighbor, Frau Holtzapfel, who
shows her disdain for Rosa by spitting on her door every time she
passes. And Rudy Steiner, obsessed with Jesse Owens, who becomes
Liesel's best friend. We meet Hans, Jr., full-fledged Nazi, whose party
loyalty causes a split with his father, who lost work because he didn't
join the Nazi party. We see that even Death was moved by the slaughter
of the Jews in Nazi Germany, and we see Liesel passing the time in the
bomb shelters reading to her neighbors.
Artfully written, with sidenotes by Death like this:
* * * THE CONTRADICTORY POLITICS * * *
OF ALEX STEINER
Point One: He was a member of the Nazi Party, but he did not
hate the Jews, or anyone else for that matter.
Point Two: Secretly, though, he couldn't help feeling a
percentage of relief (or worse-gladness!) when
Jewish shop owners were put out of business -
propaganda informed him that it was only a matter of
time before a plague of Jewish tailors showed up
and stole his customers.
Point Three: But did that mean they should be driven
Point Four: His family. Surely, he had to do whatever he
could to support them. If that meant being in the party,
it meant being in the party.
Point Five: Somewhere, far down, there was an itch in his
heart, but he made it a point not to scratch it. He was afraid of
what might come leaking out.
this is the story of a little girl, her family, and her friends, trying
to make it through the reign of Hitler with the least damage possible.
Hiding the son of the man who saved Hans' life in the Great War in their
basement. Seeing Jews marched through their streets and not being able
to do anything to help them. Being punished with whippings by soldiers
when they even tossed a crust of bread to the hungry Jews. Living on
rations and loss, and trying to keep a positive head when things around
them are no longer making sense. Losing a father to the war when they
are unwilling to give a son to the Party. It is both sad and
enlightening; happy and heartbreaking; illustrating triumph over the
worst adversity. It's a book that will stay with you. If you have it
on your shelves, read it. If you don't, you need to buy, beg or borrow
You could argue that Liesel Meminger had it easy. She did have it easy compared to Max Vandenburg. Certainly, her brother practically died in her arms. Her mother abandoned her.
But anything was better than being a Jew.
He'd have cried and turned and smiled if only he could have seen the
book thief on her hands and knees, next to his decimated body. He'd
have been glad to witness her kissing his dusty, bomb-hit lips.
Her wrinkles were like slander. Her voice was akin to a beating with a stick.
If I could read this book over and over again, I would never put it down. It sounds corny, but this book actually changed how I read books. My 8th grade English teacher gave it to me, thinking I would enjoy it; oh boy was he right! I ended up falling madly in love with Liesel and her crazy friend Rudy, her papa who worked his way into my heart by so tenderly teaching his little foster daughter to read, and surprisingly, Death, who was the curious narrator. This little girl who stole books, who grew to love her dear papa, who's best friend wanted nothing more than a kiss, and who's kindness and friendship saved the life of a Jew, caught the interest of Death, and stole my heart as well. I won't give much away, but all I can say is a little street named Heaven was the home of an amazing little girl who captivated death, and all who knew her. And Heaven met Hell one day in Nazi Germany, with Liesel and Death at the center.
World War Two is just on the brink of beginning. Chaos is everywhere - and so are Nazis.
Liesel Meminger and her brother are to be transported to another home, for reasons unknown. She is both sad and exhilarated - what is happening?
But her brother dies on the journey, and Lisel finds it hard to face the grief. She and her mother, silent and solemn, conduct a funeral for the little boy outside in the snow.
That is when it catches her eye - "the Gravedigger's Handbook", a lone book lying on the ground. She pockets it, and this is her first act of book thievery.
Life goes on. Her new, foster family, the Hubermanns, enrol her in school, where she finds a friend in the mischievious, lemon-yellow-haired Rudy. But her eye is always on the look out for new books to steal - from Nazi book-burnings, or the Mayor's house's library.
This is a story with a unique and interesting plot. It is a story that shows us the importance of words, and where we would be without them. Narrated by "Death" itself, it captures aspects of life and love, and the power of words.
The Book Thief is "just a small story really, about, among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist fighter, and quite a lot of thievery". It tells the story of Liesel Meminger, a girl sent to live with foster parents during World War Two in Nazi Germany. Liesel Meminger is also known as the book thief, and can't resist the urge to take books whenever she gets the chance. But this story is more than just about book stealing. It is about a blonde-haired boy named Rudy and two foster parents who hide a Jew in their basement. It is about human nature, resilience, love, and at the same time, war, death, and chocolate-covered skies.
I have read a lot of good books, a lot of great books even, but never have I come across a book that has affected me quite like this one has. I finished reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak on Friday night, sobbing, after reading the 500+ page book in about a day. I could not stop reading this book. Zusak tells the story of Liesel, a young German girl, growing up in Nazi Germany. The entire book is narrated by Death, which gives the reader a clue that this book certainly is not going to be a happy, cheerful one in the least, but surprisingly, Death does a great job as the Narrator. We meet Liesel as she is on her way to a foster family, her mother no longer able to care for her and her younger brother in times of extreme poverty and sickness. Within the first five pages, her younger brother dies right in front of her. This is just the beginning of the horror and tragedy that Liesel will endure through this novel. We get to see Liesel learn to to love words and view books as treasures only granted to those worthy enough to hold them. We see an intense love of family, friendship, and normalcy. Most importantly, we get to view the extreme ruthlessness of the Nazi world through the eyes of a child expected to be a Nazi herself. Rarely do we get that in books. This is a true gem...I have never read anything better. I would recommend every single one of you read this book, it was completely magical.
You are in a world you may not understand. You are in a time that doesn't smile kindly on the poor. You have lost your brother and mother all in one day and can't read the book you've just stolen.
You are Liesel Meminger.
WWII. Hitler takes Poland and Death collects the leftover souls. Liesel Meminger is forced to stay with the Hubermans, each night a nightmare of her brother is waiting for her. Soon, her new papa, Hans Huberman, is also waiting. After the nightmare, and before the words.
Soon words begin to take shape for Liesel as she adapts to her new home on Himmel street. With her best friend Rudy, and "quite a lot of thivery", Death tells us her story with such poetic flavoring, I don't know anyone who shouldn't read this masterpiece.
But it doesn't end there. An accordionist, a Jewish fist fighter, a Mayor's wife, a room filled with words, a certain symbol...It almost hurt when I had to close the book.
I don't know how to credit Mr. Zusak on this one. I feel as if I should be thanking him.
But enough of my rambling, go read his. If you're not completely satisfied, then I can't offer any other book suggestions, because it's the best I've ever read. I mean it.
This book was one of the best books I've read in a while! From the second I picked it up to the second I put it down, I never once wanted to leave it's pages. It told the story of a girl growing up during the rein of Hitler, has seen her brother die, was given away by her mother, has a foul-mouthed foster mother, a foster father with silver eyes, she befriends a Jew, is best friends with a boy who loves to run, and she steals books. From the Governor. Did I mention the book is narated by Death? almost kind of creepy, but it just made the story even better. Every page is filled with a different suprise, some that will make you cry, others that will make you cheer with joy. after reading this book you will never be the same. it is a truely awesome book!
In The Book Thief Markus Zusak tells the story of Leisel Meminger, a nine year-old orphan living in Nazi Germany. Leisel steals food in order to survive, but she steals books in order to live. Utilizing vivid language and a haunting tone Zusak honestly and eloquently portrays the struggles of a young girl faced with prejudice, fear, love and her own mortality. Although many of the adult characters in the book will find places of honor within the heart of the reader, Leisels courage, honesty and vulnerability mark her as the true heroine in The Book Thief.
The Book Thief by Australian author Marcus Zusak is a great book with a cool concept that is well executed. When I first heard about it, I thought I wouldnt like to read another book about wartime Germany, but this one is different in that it is about the suffering of ordinary Germans during WWII. It is narrated by death who talks about his numerous meeting with the titular character Liesel. He first meets Liesel when her brother dies and this is also when she steals her first book. The story continues in this way death meeting Liesel when he comes to pick up various people that die around her (it is wartime after all) and Liesel stealing books, learning to read and starting to understand the power of words.
There is one Jewish character who is an old friend of Liesls foster father who the family takes in and hides in their basement. He also schools Liesel in the power of words, stealing Hilters book by painting over those evil words and creating his own story as a gift to Liesel.
Other important characters are Liesels foster parents Hans and Rosa Hubermann who speak somewhat roughly but are quite endearing. Liesel also has a romance of sorts with Rudy, a local boy.
A very touching and rewarding story that definitely makes the tears flow!