Thursday, August 29, 2013

Book Review: "The Book Thief"

This book has recently risen in popularity. It was written in 2005, but a movie of it is set to come out toward the end of the year. After reading the book, I am super excited to see it on screen.

This book was also on my Goodreads, but I first heard about it through several different blogs I follow. Apparently all the bloggers are reading it. So I got on the bandwagon, and for once I am so glad I did!

Find it on Amazon here

The Book Thief is about a young German girl named Liesel Meminger, who is coming of age just as the world is being thrown into the second world war. She is sent to live with a family called the Hubermanns, because her own mother is unable to take care of her.

After dealing with the hardship of losing her first family, Liesel becomes strongly attached to her second family, especially to her new "Papa," Hans Hubermann. She meets new friends and learns to read at her new school. She becomes addicted to words and books. She also becomes a serial book thief. 

One reason the story is remarkable is that the narrator is Death. Death, however, does not satisfy our preconceived idea of a grim reaper with a scythe and skeleton's head. Instead, Death is darkly funny, plainly blunt, and even very sorry for the souls he has to take home. Because, he knows how the story ends, sometimes he gives the end of a situation first and then goes back to work up to it, which can be a little confusing. At the beginning, Death lists the three times he "ran into" Liesel Meminger, and then uses the rest of the narrative to fill in the blanks of the story. So at first the three instances are fragmented situations that don't make sense. Then, after we've gotten to know Liesel and her life, the three times she "runs into" Death fit well into the storyline.

This novel is amazing. I love historical fiction, and this book deals with a time I've always been doubly revolted and fascinated by: the World War II and Holocaust era. When we read stories or even non-fiction from that time, we don't usually get a glimpse of what it was like to be a German child in that time. Looking into Liesel's life is fascinating. She attends the Hitler Youth meetings, but at the same time she shows sympathy for the Jews that she meets. This book deals very much with the pull a person feels between a society going one way and convictions going the other.

So in conclusion, please read this book! Read it twice! It is vivid and gripping. You will laugh and you will cry. And hopefully you will come away from it with a great hunger for the power of words... just like the Book Thief.

Hanneli

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