After having this book sitting on my Shelf of Shame i finally picked it up and read it. It was a slow start and almost put it down after the first two chapters as i could not get into it. However as soon as i passed this point really enjoyed this book, to the point of nearly missing my train stop on the way home one night.
It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .
Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.
This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.
It took me a while to get into ‘The Book Thief’, I even stopped reading it and put it down for a week or two before I tried again. But once I got into the story and invested in the characters I could not put it down.
Liesel is the main character, a young girl placed into a foster home in, living in Germany when the war and Nazism was at its peak. In this time of poverty, especially for her family and the families that live on Himmel Street too, she finds comfort in her father, her best friend Rudy, her hidden friend Max, and in reading.
One of my favourite things about this book is the different dynamics of the relationships that Liesel has. With her father she finds escape and support, he was there to comfort her when she woke up with dreams about her brother who had passed away, he was there to help her learn how to read, and filled her life with laughter and music. With Rudy she can be a child, have run, steal food and books-they have such a close friendship and the end of the book really broke my heart. Max, the Jew the family are hiding in her basement is someone she relates to and they both share a love and respect of words and the power they hold. They both were displaced from their old homes, and in Max, Lisel is confronted with what Nazism and Hitlers view does to people that are not so different from her.
A last comment I will make is about the narration. The narration by Death, particularly his style of narration, was what took me a while to get into the book. However, i soon grew to enjoy his interludes. This style of narration allowed the author to include hints about what will happen, to build up anticipation, and jump between characters at certain points to update us as to their role in the storyline.
‘The Book Thief’ is a heartbreaking story of love and friendships in a time of war. Like many of us, Liesel finds escape and enjoyment in the world of book and Markus Zusak can explore the issues of war and discrimination through the eyes of a young girl.The book is so extremely relevant today, and will raise issues that will continue to be relevant in the years to come. While the style of writing and narration can take a while to get into, it is a worthwhile read that will make you think until the final page.