Am I among the last of readers to have read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak? It’s an amazing book. I had a little bit of a hard time first getting into it. Luckily, I knew in advance that it is a Young Adults book, so that helped. However, don’t let that put you off from reading it if you haven’t.
The Book Thief is Leisel Meminger, a young girl in 1939 Germany whose mother was taking her and Leisel’s brother to a foster home after Leisel’s father left the home. Sadly, Leisel’s brother died on the trip and when he was being buried, Leisel stole a book called The Grave Digger’s Handbook. She did not know how to read then. It was the first book that she stole. Leisel was placed in a foster home with a loving father and a seemingly unloving, strict mother. Leisel’s foster father teaches her to read during the long lonely nights when she awakened from nightmares and he would come to comfort her. Thus began her long love affair with books.
Obviously, 1939 Germany is a dangerous place and time. As Leisel settled into her new home, she met other children in the neighborhood and made good friends. Soon, her foster family hid Max, a Jew whose father had saved Leisel’s father in World War I. Max was hidden in the basement, and he and Leisel became close.
“You see, people may tell you that Nazi Germany was built on anti-Semitism, a somewhat overzealous leader, and a nation of hate-fed bigots, but it would all have come to nothing had the Germans not loved on particular activity.To burn.The Germans loved to burn things. Shops, synagogues, Reichstags, houses, personal items, slain people, and of course, books.”
This is by no means a simple book. It is an amazing book. The writing is excellent, the premise is outstanding and the narration is breath-taking. Death narrates the story.
“It’s probably fair to say that in all the years of Hitler’s reign, no person was able to serve the Fuhrer as loyally as me. A human doesn’t have a heart like mine. The human heart is a line, whereas my own is a circle, and I have the endless ability to be in the right place at the right time. The consequence of this is that I’m always finding humans at their best and worst. I see their ugly and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both. Still, they have one thing I envy. Humans, if nothing else, have the good sense to die.”