“Perhaps [the books] were damp. Perhaps the fire didn’t burn long enough to fully reach the depth where they sat. Whatever the reason, they were huddled among the ashes, shaken. Survivors.” Markus Zusak, THE BOOK THIEF
From the Publisher:
“Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking 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.
The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.”
How can a novel narrated by Death and set in Nazi Germany be uplifting?
It’s a question I’ve been pondering since I finished THE BOOK THIEF several days ago, and while I can point to Death’s macabre humor and unique sensory experience of the world, I can name the feisty adolescents and silly swearing housewives, I think what most strikes me is the care given to souls through this unusual narrator, whether or not those souls are worthy.
Human worth is explored in great depth in this novel, and the protagonist, a young German girl named Liesel, her foster parents, the Jewish man they hide, and Liesel’s best friend, Rudy, are all terribly human and dazzlingly worthy. Zusak has created an intricately connected world of characters real enough to step out of the pages of the book. This is a novel of courage, pain, sin, and redemption, and as my friend who recommended THE BOOK THIEF said to me, “You will never see the world quite the same once you’ve read it.”
I must agree with this statement, and I highly recommend THE BOOK THIEF to anyone interested in fiction that transcends style and genre to create a story that touches the core of what it means to be human. THE BOOK THIEF is one of those novels that lingers with the reader, and makes one’s heart feel larger for having read it.