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.
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.
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.
This book is told in a bit of a different way.Â Death talks to us about his life a little, about picking up and caring for the souls of the dead, how he looks at the sky to fend off depression, how he wishes humans at times would just stop all the craziness that causes so much death.Â The backdrop of this book is Hitler and his war against Jews. But the majority of the book is Death telling us about Liesel.Â Liesel's mother is poor and her and her brother are being taken to a foster family when Death first sees and notices Liesel.Â Liesel's younger brother dies on the train ride and Death is there to take his soul.Â He is drawn to Liesel and continues telling her story (and the story of those around her) for the rest of the book.Â Liesel is a typical child with a wonderful gift with words.Â At her brother's funeral, she picks up/steals a book about gravedigging that a new gravedigger accidentally dropped.Â Every book Liesel steals is not really an act of crime, but more an act of chance.Â Through Liesel we meet her foster family -Hans or Â Papa, who is Liesel's saving grace in gentle ways and Rosa, who shows her love with a more tough love approach.Â Liesel meets Rudy, a very charming young man with a strong sense of self.Â They are both poor and start stealing foodÂ together and become, well best friends isn't strong enough to describe their bond.Â We also meet Max, an escaped Jew, who has a surprising yet thin link to Papa.Â When they take Max in and hide him, Liesel becomes a close friend to him and this sets off a chain of events that changes her life.Â This book is utterly heartbreaking in many ways, but in a realistic approach to the subjects of love, fairness, war and the bonds people make with eachother.Â This book absolutely sucked me in and is a book I will add to my shelf.Â There were so many memorable little stories within the story in this book and so many highlights of the bonds Liesel shared with everyone.Â Marcus Zusak really made the words in this book flow so beautifully, I will be reading more of his books, but The Book Thief was a perfect book to start with.Â
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 is different. Different to all the other books that I have ever read.
Firstly, it is narrated by Death itself. That's something I have never ever seen before, and I was done in the most perfect of ways.
Secondly, this book is set in one of the darkest of times that humans have ever been through. But this book isn't all dying and screams of the Jewish being tortured, this book still has a childhood that a lot of people would die for. One full of a loving family, amazing friends and criminal escapades.
Lastly this book has such an astounding use of metaphors. Markus Zusak has compared things no one else could. He barley used any smilies, but metaphors, making you want so much to believe. My favorite metaphor in this book was the one about the cloud stretching towards the sun like a tight-rope, and Max and Liesel walking hand in hand along it together. This was a truly beautiful line that was truly amazing.
Most books that have been written during this period of time are very depressing, with hardly fun parts, all sadness for everyone of the characters. But this book had captured the laughter and smiles of the children who still had fun during this time, children like Liesel and Rudy.
I think that this book kinda let itself down in the sections when it told us the ending. I think that this spoiled the storyline, and made you know what to expect. I know that this was a recount by Death, but I think that the author should of not gave away the ending.
This book is beautiful, haunting and it captures your heart in every page you turn, a flourishing childhood blooming in the saddest of times.
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!
I can't/ won't begin to explain the (loose) plot of this book, except to say it follows a German girl named Liesl during WWII. Beyond that, you have to read it. It is a wonderful book, and despite the depressing setting/ events, it will still make you laugh multiple times. (But be prepared-- the ending will make you cry-- and I am not one who usually cries over books.) This is really a must-read. I am very fond of Zusak's I Am the Messenger, but this was a hundred times better-- a real gem. Go read it.
This book was so good that I cried in the end. Yes, literally. Markus Zusak's writing is clear, bold, and engaging. After I read the book, I researched Zusak and learned that the book is actually based on his mother's story about how she and her family barely survived living in Germany during Hitler's reign and World War II. He said it was a story he felt compelled to write, even if no one ever read it. Once I learned this, I had more appreciation for his novel. One of my favorite books of all time, and I'm a voracious reader.
So well-written. The story hooks the reader right from the beginning (who wouldn't pay attention to Death as the Narrator?) and has them turning pages to the end. Wonderful variety of characters who interact with each other, building tension as the story progresses. Great plot and subplots. True-to-life details helps create strong visuals/setting as to what life was like during World War II in Nazi-ruled Germany for German citizens.