“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. . . .” begins this novel that is set during World War II in Germany. The narrator, Death, follows 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. I was definitely intrigued by the title – but to be honest – this book has been sitting on my To Be Read list since April 2011. So what made me pick it up and finally start to read it? I had some time on my hands to actually sit down and read it and digest it.
THE FIRST LINE
Part 1: DEATH AND CHOCOLATE
First the colors.
Then the humans.
That’s usually how I see things.
Or at least, how I try.
***HERE IS A SMALL FACT ***
You are going to die.
FROM THE PUBLISHER
By her brother’s graveside, Liesel Meminger’s life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Grave Digger’s Handbook, left there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordion-playing foster-father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever there are books to be found.
But these are dangerous times. When Liesel’s foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel’s world is both opened up and closed down.
In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time. Copyright 2007 Alfred A. Knopf
I originally gave this book a 4 star rating. The only reason it wasn’t 5 stars to me is because of the beginning. I had a really hard time getting into the book…but once it opened up, it was a stunning read. It was not a quick read for me…but I rather enjoyed taking breaks and digesting the words and scenes. Narrated from the perspective of “death” – it follows the growth of a young girl during one of history’s most haunting ages – Nazi Germany. There are sentences and descriptions which are truly unique and inspiring – and every one of the last few chapters gave me tears. It’s been a long time since that’s happened. Be patient with the beginning and you won’t regret this read!
A few quotes I enjoyed:
In years to come, he would be a giver of bread, not a stealer – proof again of the contradictory human being. So much good, so much evil. Just add water. (page 164)
Imagine smiling after a slap in the face. Then think of doing it twenty-four hours a day. That was the business of hiding a Jew. (page 239)
The town that afternoon was covered in a yellow mist, which stroked the rooftops as if they were pets and filled up the streets like a bath. (page 247)
He was more a black suit than a man. His face was a mustache. (page 413)
There was once a strange, small man. He decided three important details about his life:
1. He would part his hair from the opposite side to everyone else.
2. He would make himself a small, strange mustache.
3. He would one day rule the world.
…Yes, the Führer decided that he would rule the world with words. (page 445)
He does something to me, that boy. Every time. It’s his only detriment. He steps on my heart. He makes me cry. (page 531)
This review was written based on a copy of The Book Thief that I obtained through Paperback Swap.