Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Book Thief

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak, is outstanding.  It's heartbreaking.  It's beautiful.  It's one of the saddest and one of the best things I've ever read.  Of all the books written about WWII (and we've all read a fair share, am I right?) this would fall in my list of Top 5 That Brought WWII to Life for Me.

Liesel Meminger is a 9-year-old German girl when she is brought to live with her new foster family in the late 1930s.  During the course of her stay she would learn to read, steal, fall in love, hide a Jew, and lose everything.  This is the story of the book thief, told by the one being that most felt was constantly present during WWII.

With all the material on WWII (fiction, non-fiction, young adult, adult, etc.) it's hard to come up with something original.  Zusak, however, took everything we knew about the war and showed it to us through two new pairs of eyes.  Liesel is not Jewish.  She doesn't have the same relationship with Nazi Germany that Anne Frank had.  Zusak shows us Nazi Germany from the Nazi Germany side; few authors have the courage to make us feel compassion for those that are demonized.

The second pair of eyes we have the privilege of looking through is that of the narrator: Death.  Zusak brings Death to life, humanizing him.  In fact, Death was one of my favorite characters.

Zusak not only tells a great story, but he knows exactly how to hammer it home.  He uses colorful twists of words to lace together short, simple sentences that scream the truth.  We've heard it all before.  But not in this way.

5 out of 5 stars.  You will love this book.  There's a very good possibility that you will cry.  When you turn the last page, you will want to savor it, to share it, and to read it again.  If you haven't already read it, run to your nearest bookstore (yes, I think you should buy this one) and if you have read it, read it again.  You know you want to.

15 comments:

  1. I just got it on my Kindle. After meaning to read it for years, I've read two beautifully written, rave reviews in as many days. Thank you for spotlighting a book I let slide. I'm really looking forward to it!

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  2. Great review of an incredible book. I was telling my book club a few months bach that Death was one of the most sympathetic characters I've ever read -- just stunning. -Cori

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  3. Ugh. I didn't read that before I posted it. "Back" not "bach." Although, if I were more into classical music I think I'd use them interchangeably sometimes.

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  4. I love this book! I found you on Jennifer's blog hop. I am following you and hope you will come see me sometime. My blog is here:
    http://tilwereadagian.blogspot.com

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  5. I just reviewed this book too!! http://www.crazy-for-books.com/2010/03/review-book-thief-by-markus-zusak.html

    It's absolutely amazing!! I couldn't even put words into a review. I sobbed at the end!! Such an amazing book - I can't rave enough about it!

    Thanks for joining the Hop! I'm so glad I found your blog! Looking forward to reading more of your reviews! I'm now a follower!

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  6. Yes, Death is a fantastic character - and such an original voice. You make a great point about how hard it must've been to come up with a new way to tell a WWII story, but Zusak nailed it!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog - I'm following you now, too.

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  7. This book became one of my all-time favourites when I read it. I'm glad to see others still discovering it. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on it. So glad you liked it too.

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  8. I have had this sitting on my shelf for almost a year. I think I haven't read it for two reasons. I picked it up at a used bookstore and had a really bad experience there and I can't get past the first 50 pages for some reason. I keep meaning to go back to it and eventually I will - I just haven't felt the urge yet. Wonderful review though! I've heard such great things about this book. Sometime I will get it read.

    By the way, I'm a Friday follower, I'd love for you stop by my blog too at cookiesbooksbikes.blogspot.com

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  9. Hey Amy. Just thought I'd stop by and say thanks for the comment! Love your blog - look forward to stopping by in the future!

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  10. I read The Book Thief a few years ago and loved it! I was a bit teary-eyed at the end too.

    I found you on Jennifer's Book Blogger Hop you've got a great blog.

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  11. I have this one sitting on my shelf, and every time I see a great review for it, I think that I should really get to reading it soon, but something always seems to pop up :/ Glad you enjoyed it!

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  12. I agree, this is an outstanding book. I loved it and highly recommend it. Great review.

    Jennifer @ Mrs. Q: Book Addict
    http://web.me.com/quirion

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  13. I also have had this book sitting on my shelf for months, but have put off reading it because I am afraid of the sadness. I really need to get over that and read it already.

    Thanks for visiting my blog!

    (Sorry if this comment comes up twice - my first one seems to have disappeared into the void, but maybe might resurface.)

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  14. It is a great book, I love the way he also uses humour at times to tell what is a sad story. Love Death as a narrator, Zusak's Death did remind me of the way Terry Pratchett also uses the character of Death. A remarkable book.

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  15. Thank you all for your comments! And welcome to the new followers! I'm glad you're here. :-)

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