*Warning: Contains spoilers*
When I first heard of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, people said it was unbelievable and incomparable but to be honest I never felt a particular longing to read it. However, I did eventually pick it up and once I did I could not stop reading.
***HERE IS A SMALL FACT***
You are going to die.
That is literally one of the first things you will read in this book. The book narrated by none other than Death himself is a troubling and engaging story of a girl whom we soon come to recognize as “The Book Thief.” It is written at the time of Hitler’s reign, when the Nazi’s had control of Germany and this book is actually filled with little sprinkles of real facts and events that took place in Nazi Germany. As someone who is very interested in history this only makes a particularly impressive book even better. All the events in this book occur all the while that World War II is ongoing, and eventually the war causes an unimaginable chain of events that will lead to the destruction of Himmel Street
“Like most misery it started with happiness- Death
The irony and sometimes biting sarcasm involved in Deaths narration of the events that follow are both humorous and depressing at the same time. All the while Death tries to be “cheerful” and “amiable” to prove to humans that he too is capable of this. However, he does insist we don’t expect him to be “nice” because as “agreeable” as he attempts to be, being “nice” is not one of his strong suits (obviously).
“It kills me sometimes how people die” – Death
As the story continues we are introduced to some of the most loveable characters I have ever read about. Beginning with Leisel Meminger who has been left in the care of Mr. Hans Hubbermann, a lovable, patient and caring father figure to Leisel and apparently a fantastic accordionist who takes Leisel under his wing as he teaches her not only to read but lessons about the world and life that we should all take seriously. She is also in the care of Mrs. Rosa Hubbermann who comes off at first as impatient and rude but as the story progresses and we witness her treatment of Max Vandenburg we realize she is in her own way as loving and caring as Hans.
Max Vandenburg is a Jew who is hiding from the Nazi’s and ends up staying in the Hubbermann’s basement. His charming personality strongly contrasts with the hardships he has to endure due to the single, incriminating fact that he is Jewish. Leisel learns to love him as well as lean on him in times of sorrow. Through this little girls eyes we see the wrongful treatment of the poor, innocent Jewish people who were victimized in Nazi Germany.
Rudy Steiner quickly becomes Leisel’s best friend. His sandy blonde hair, blue eyes, and athletic and intellectual knowledge quickly grows on the reader and on Leisel too. He always remains in love with her and his longing to kiss her never changes.
The end is too realistically painful and leaves the reader mourning the death of these beloved characters who were through destiny forcefully put together on Himmel Street and formed a deep bond that no family could ever compare to. It ends with Death’s haunting declarative “I am haunted by humans” as he admits that his job is a difficult one.
“Even death has a heart”
The Book Thief is one of the deepest, most thought provoking, uplifting and beautifully depressing books I’ve ever read. The characters, all woven into World War II Germany capture the hearts of the reader in a way few other characters can brag to. I can definitely say that Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief is a novel you must immediately read.
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