Writing a review of a book of such a caliber as that of The Book Thief is going to require a special kind of talent. A talent of such a level I, personally think, am not capable of. Since the inception of its film adaptation, I had been hearing so much regarding The Book Thief. I proceeded to get a copy of the film and (such as my nature demands of me) was excessively adamant to not watch it until I had read the book. All I can say now is that I cannot believe it took me this long to finally become familiar with this absolute genius of a book. Now that I have read this masterpiece and watched its film adaptation as well its time to praise it. As I’ve said above, reviewing this book requires a talent of a whole new level. lets hope I do Markus Zusak and his bestseller, justice.
The Book Thief is a historical fiction written by Australian author Markus Zusak. it is the first of his only two bestsellers (the other one being The Messenger). Based around the destructive atmosphere of the Second World War it most definitely deserves a pace on your list of must-reads.
Published a decade ago, The Book Thief remains as relevant as ever. It is about a young German girl named Leisel Meminger who has been handed a great burden by the hand of life. Born to communist parents, Leisel and her brother Werner travel to a small town outside of Munich, named Molching where a foster family has been selected to take them in. But while on the train Death catches up to little Werner. Now there’s a reason why I wrote Death with a capital D. The Book Thief is narrated by none other than Death himself. The way that portrayal has taken place is something else entirely. We’ll come to that soon.
Soon Leisel adapts to her foster home. Both Mama and Papa that is, Hans and Rosa Huberman are as different from each other as possible but they both have good hearts. Their house is on one of the poorest streets in Molching and the name of that street is Himmel Street which translates to Heaven Street. Leisel’s new Papa provides little money for the family by doing what he does best; playing the accordion in local taverns or painting buildings while Mama carries out the neighbours’ washing. After being rejected from Nazi Party, this is the best way Hans Huberman can provide for his small family. With his soft and gentle heart Hans takes up the job of teaching his new poster daughter to read and write. From that point on a unique bond blooms between father and daughter. With this new knowledge it doesn’t take long for Leisel to brand herself with the title of Book Thief. It starts off with one book and continues. Leisel not only has a special bond with Papa but soon her finds a best friend, and possible lover, in local schoolboy Rudy Steiner and a very special relationship with Max Vandenburg, a runaway Jew.
Leisel has a strangely accurate perspective of stealing. According to her thieving is s way of taking something back. Something from Hitler, something from sorrow, something from Death. But she cannot outsmart Death and it is because of this that Death soon becomes obsessed with the story of Leisel Meminger.
And now on wards to the most interesting aspect of The Book Thief, as mentioned above the story is narrated by Death himself. Ironically Death is a fantastic narrator; he is empathetic and a sensitive narrator, he is detail-oriented and he is poetic. He pauses a bit here and there to clarify some details which the reader ought to know. Leisel’s story revolves around Nazi Germany, Hitler, Jews, her family and friends and her love for books. Even Death does not remain unaffected by her story.
The prose of The Book Thief is what makes it so special and unique. Its moe of poetry than prose. Marlus Zusak has made several wonderful inclusions in his book; little illustration here with a bit of poetry of there. Most importantly through Liesel, Markus Zusak tells us just how powerful words can be. Hitler’s rise to power was a result of power that words carry within themselves. We go about our daily lives completely oblivious to the power that we carry around in our words.
The film adaptation of The Book Thief was a good enough adaptation though the whole overwhelming impact of the story can only be gained properly through the book. With so many historical fiction novels out there and so many stories revolving around WWII, The Book Thief is a different kind all in itself.
As much as I have tried I know these descriptions aren’t enough for this book, one of the most beautiful and captivating books I have ever read. I hope this was convincing enough for you to read this book as soon as you finish this review.