By Markus Zusak. Grade A+
The Blurb :
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.
The Story :
The Book Thief is basically a story of a young girl which is narrated by Death, set during the days of WWII. Though, this description makes it sound like a sad, grim and depressing story, The Book Thief on the other hand is quite a pleasant, but not a light read.
Liesel Meminger is 9 yr old girl, who intrigues Death by escaping it thrice in her life. She is sent to a foster family by her communist-lenient mother and on the way there, Liesel loses her brother and during his burial, Liesel commits her first crime of stealing the book, The Gravedigger’s handbook.
In a shocked state, Liesel arrives at the doorstep of Rosa and Hans Hubermann, in the poorest streets of Molching, the Himmel Street. Rosa is a blunt, abrasive woman, who usually expresses her anger as well as love through harsh words, her favourites being saumensch and saukerl. Hans, on the other hand, is a calm person who manages to pull Liesel out of her shell. He is a survivor from the WWI and some one who is against the Nazi rule. He loves playing his accordian and he is the one to teach young Liesel to read and nurtures her love for books.
Liesel befriends Rudy, a neighbour of hers and he becomes her best friend. Liesel also grows close to Max Vandenburg, a Jewish fist-fighter, sheltered by the kind Hubermanns in the Nazi Germany. Also, Liesel manages to steal a few books, is given a few books as gifts by Hans and then “steals” some more from the mayor’s house through a window that is always open.
What I liked :
The Book Thief begins with stating the end and slowly tells the story of how the end is met. We know that Liesel will defy or has defied Death thrice and that she has or will lose all of the people close to her, one way or the other. But how is actually happens is written in such a beautiful way, that it made the story intriguing even though I know how it would end.
Liesel is not described as some unattainable, ideal child, but like a normal girl who has faced tons of hardships, like her brother dying, her mother “abandoning” her, her father mysteriously disappearing, along with her foster father being suddenly sent to war during the WWII, etc.
Every character is written in a way that is connectable to the reader and the language is simple and at times has a few German words thrown in.
Even though the story is not a very happy-happy, it has so many moments that would put a smile on your face while reading. I kept fearing that I might cry during the last pages on the book, but the subtlety of the language reduced the blow.
What I disliked :
I am not someone who can be called a fast reader, and I don’t mind a slow start in a book, but The Book Thief has the slowest start among all the many many books I have read till date. It took me some great efforts to convince myself to keep reading and not give up on the book at the wrong time.
My suggestion would be, if you don’t like a slow, boring start, either reading this book when you have a lot of free time or keep your patience even if you don’t have that much time. After about 3-4 chapters, the pace is set and then there is so stopping.
How did I get this book :
I am really glad my friend Riyal lent the Book Thief to me and I want to thank Georgie for suggesting it to me. I had read a lot of reviews about it on Goodreads but it didn’t perk my interest till I borrowed it from riyal and actually started reading it about 2 months back.
This book is one the best ones I have read and I recommend it to all of you, Adults and teens (young-adults) alike.