Hi, I'm Mrs. F-B!

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Book Thief - Markus Zusak

This 552(!) page novel is a Printz Honor book for this year and is a fascinating and at the same time very distressing book to read. The book is about the Holocaust, and though it has very little in the way of graphic violence, I find most books about this time period to be distressing simply due to the nature of waht was happening. Adding to that, the narrator of this book is Death, a point of view which I have never encountered in a novel before. It's really an intriguing perspective. Dark, but very compelling. Death appears quite compassionate in this novel, not what one might think.

The story is set in Germany during World War II and when nine-year old Liesel, the main character, arrives at her foster home she does not know how to read. Despite this fact, she has begun her career as a book thief already, stealing the gravedigger’s manual from the graveyard where they buried her younger brother on the journey to her new home in Molching with Rosa and Hans Huberman.

Hans Huberman helps Liesel through this most difficult transition in her young life by teaching her to read, and via the Gravedigger’s Handbook she learns the power of words, a power which she will use to get not only herself through difficult times in a war torn country but also those in her neighborhood who must join her frequently in their air raid shelter. There, Leisel helps to calm everyone’s nerves by taking their minds off the bombing with the stories she reads aloud. Her sources for books are varied. A few she is given, like the one the Jewish refugee Max who is hiding in their basement makes for her, but others she steals, from Nazi book burnings and even from the mayor’s wife (well, she sort of steals these).

This beautifully written book is powerful and intense, but should be read only by mature readers because of the mature themes in the story.

No comments: