Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Book Thief

The Book ThiefThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sum it up in a sentence (or two): the story of Liesel, a young girl growing up in 1940s Germany, plus her foster family (the Hubermanns), and best friend(s) (Rudy and Max).

First thoughts: Having death as a narrator is a nice solemn, yet not overly dramatic, touch. S/he is very matter-of-fact, especially considering s/he is about to become the protagonist once WWII starts in earnest. As I read, I wasn't sure where the story was going, other than following Liesel's youth, but every page was so intriguing and pleasant and well-crafted that I didn't care.

Words and phrases: I was struck by so many beautiful passages - they were on every page and drew me through this depressing and gorgeous book. The style, tone, pacing, and subtle clever touches were amazing.

Favorite characters: Liesel. She is relatable, somehow (we have almost nothing in common). Rudy is a charmer, so you have to like him. Hans/Papa as well. And Max. And Rosa. And Ilsa. This is a great character book.

Favorite quotes:
"...the words were on their way, and when they arrived, Liesel would hold them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out like the rain." p 80

"Verstehst du mich?" (Do you understand me?) -Papa, p 204

"'Don't punish yourself,' she heard her [Ilsa] say again, but there would be punishment and pain, and there would be happiness too. That was writing." p 525

"I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn't already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race - that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so damning and brilliant." p 550

Final thoughts: I was basically in tears at the end of this book. If I ever watch the movie, I'll have to view it like a whole separate entity, because there is no translating the layers of this story to film. Each page was a treat, and put all together, The Book Thief was a reading feast.

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