Friday, August 15, 2014

Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

I've been wanting to read this book for a long time, but it took the DVD release to finally move it to the top of my TBR pile.  I've read nothing but great reviews, but the subject matter and length of the book were major deterrents for me.  I remember watching Schindler's List when I was in college.  The movie was very well done, but it was heart wrenching to say the least.  I was not ready for a 552 page book that could possible lead me down the same path.

The story is told from Death's point of view and takes place in the late 30's to mid 40's.  Death was extremely busy during this period due to the events in Nazi Germany and the onset of WW2.  He first crosses paths with Liesel Meminger when her six year old brother dies on a train due to illness.  It is at his funeral where she steals her first book.  The grave digger drops his handbook and Liesel picks it up.  At the time she does not know how to read, but she cherishes the book anyway.

Her foster father, Hans Hubermann, is not the strongest reader in his own right, but he takes it upon himself to teach her how to read.  Each night when Liesel wakes from her nightmares, Hans is always there ready to read with her.  Throughout the book Liesel begins to understand the importance of words.  She not only enjoys reading, but she begins to write as well.  She even helps others cope by reading to them at their homes and in the bomb shelter during the raids.

Throughout the book we see what life was like for the German poor.  Children were starving and families were torn apart.  Any resistance to the Nazi party's wishes brought further pain to not only the resister, but their loved ones as well.  Liesel, Hans, and Rosa Hubermann walked an even more dangerous line.  They befriended a Jewish man named Max and hid him in their basement.

With Death as the narrator, I did not feel like the story was as heart wrenching as it could have been.  He gave the reader plenty of advance warning as to what was eventually coming.  There were no surprises like the one I received at the end of The Fault in Our Stars.  I had plenty of time to accept what was coming, but the last 50 pages still required tissues.  You will not want to read the ending out in public.

The epilogue leaves the reader on a happier note and provides a sense of closure to Liesel Meminger's story.  I just wish one additional detail had been provided.

Overall, this was an exceptional book.  I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads and would recommend it to any reader.  I've already requested the DVD from the library.  I'm pretty far down the wait list, but I will post a review after I watch it.

Spoiler Alert!!!!  Do NOT read the following if you haven't read the book.  

Death said that Liesel was married and had three children before she died at a very old age.  He did not say who her husband was.  Even though there were several years between Max and Liesel, I think Max was the husband/father.  They obviously loved each other very much and had a wonderful friendship.  They both deserved happiness after everything they went through and I sincerely hope they found it.

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