Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Book review: The Book Thief

I've read The Book Thief three times now, and I think I fall in love a little more every time.

There are several interesting things about The Book Thief. The first is that it's set in Nazi Germany; in the beginning it's 1939, just before World War II starts. The second is that it's narrated by Death.

Strange fact about me. I'm highly, highly interested in books that take place during WWII. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. Number the Stars. The Devil's Arithmetic. I'm immediately drawn to these books and the grotesque, can't look away story of the Holocaust, and I don't know why.

All those books have something in common that makes The Book Thief different. They're all told from the point of view of a Jew. The Book Thief is about a little German girl. A German girl sent to live with foster parents, who loses her brother on the train ride to Germany. A German girl with nightmares, a best friend who admires a black runner, and who attends Nazi Youth. A German girl who learns that there is life beyond Hitler, despite what the majority of her neighbors believe.

The book is long. It drags in the beginning (I can highly recommend listening to it, however) but amidst the dark, dark story, there is a little humor, at first. Liesel steals books and slowly learns to read in the middle of the night, when her foster father wakes her from her nightmares. She keeps to herself for the most part, but she's not timid.

It's a coming of age story about a little girl who comes of age far too quickly. When a Jewish man starts hiding in their basement, (a basement to shallow for air raid coverage), and the war starts, along with nightly air raids, Liesel is forced to grow up quickly.

It's a wonderful, sad, touching read. It's unusual, which drew me to it initially, but the writing sucked me in. It's worth reading, and it's one of my favorite books, if we're being perfectly honest.

Have you read The Book Thief? Did you enjoy it as much as I did?

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