I’m at that stage where I have just too many wonderful books to review. A long list that I am working through. Some I can not not review, others so good that I wonder if I might just end up messing it up by reviewing them. The Book Thief falls under that category. It is with a lot of trepidation that I review it, hoping that I do justice to a book as wonderful as this.
Bindu had reviewed this, and ever since, I had been waiting to get hold of it. Bindu is one of those close friends of mine, whose reviews, I can trust with my eyes closed. I love the books that she picks up.
So the blurb says
‘Here is a small fact: You are going to die.’
The story of the book thief is narrated by death. Death has a personality, a character of its own, and feelings as it narrates the tale of Liesel Meminger, a nine-year old orphan. She and her brother are traveling to their new foster parents’ place, when Death visits them the first time and takes away her brother. This is Death’s first encounter with Liesel, and also the first time she steals a book, ‘The Gravedigger’s Handbook’. She steals it, just as a reminder of her brother. A book has no meaning to her, because she can’t read, yet, but that will change, and how that would change!
Liesel arrives at her foster parents’ place, Hans and Rosa Hubermanns. Hans Hubermann is loving and caring, while Rosa’s style of showing love is rather different. Either way, Liesel makes peace with her fate and goes along with what ever is expected of her. Hans takes an extra effort to make things easier for Liesel, much to the disapproval of his wife. He teaches her painstakingly to read. Liesel befriends Rudy, a boy from her neighbourhood, and from her school. Together, they face the world in the way only children can. Hans is a patriotic man but doesn’t agree completely with the Nazi party ideas. That results in him not getting entry into the Nazi party, much to dismay of his son. Not being part of the Nazi party comes with problems of its own, and Hubermanns have to face the brunt of it. All this while, Liesel has been steadily reading books that she manages to steal. I wish I could write more, but I would then be giving the whole story.
Set in Nazi Germany, it is a beautiful piece of work. Liesel’s story is beautifully woven in, with the happenings of that time and the things people do to survive and help others survive and how books play a huge, huge role in that. Set in one of history’s most tragic and brutal times, this book is about hope and courage. It is a book that can make you cry and smile and feel good about the general goodness of people. I love the way the characters are all beautifully fleshed out. Liesel’s stoic and resilient nature, with glimpses of how much she misses her mother. Hans’ simple and caring nature, coupled with doing what is right. Rudy, Rosa I mean, I could go on. I loved the characterization and the fact that the author has brought it all together so beautifully. I especially loved the way Death narrates the story, giving us an inkling of what is about to come.
A book I thoroughly enjoyed. One that I took my time to read. Re-reading bits, going back to parts, what a gorgeous book it was! This is one of the books that I will have in my personal collection. To read, and re-read, again and again. As I said, I worry about reviewing this book, in case I don’t make it as interesting as the book itself is. All I would say is that, even if you hate my review, please do read the book. It would be totally worth it. A book that will stay with you. I even liked the book cover!
A 5/5 book for me.
About the Author
Markus Zusak was born in 1975 and is the author of five books, including the international bestseller, The Book Thief , which is translated into more than forty languages. First released in 2005, The Book Thief has spent a total of 375 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and still remains there eight years after it first came out.