The Book Thief has been on my “to read” list for a long time. I picked it up over one school break but didn’t get very far before my classes started again and I just couldn’t keep up with it. So I picked it up again this summer and this time couldn’t put it down! What a unique story! World War II/ Holocaust stories are usually pretty difficult for me to read, and understandably so. What a sad time in our world’s history! This story, however, was so intriguing because it was told in such a unique way.
This book is the story of Liesel, a little girl who is taken in by the Hubermanns in Nazi occupied Germany. The story of Liesel, the Hubermanns and others is told through the narration of Death. Yes, Death narrates this story, and there could not be a more appropriate or unique voice to do so. I thought at first that a book narrated by Death could be nothing but sad and tragic, but it gives the book such an interesting spin. The story is told by the one voice that witnessed humans at their best and humans at their worst.
The chapters are short and contain interesting snippets about characters, such as a list of facts we should know about a new character as he/ she is introduced, a different format than what I’m used to but it was easy enough to adjust to and easy to read. Liesel just stole my heart from the beginning and later Max would as well. Even though you know the outcome of the war, it is different to read of these particular characters. You just have to keep reading to find out what will happen to them and if they will survive the war.
And of course, underlying all of this is the desperation of one little girl to get her hands on non-Nazi literature during a time when books were being banned and burned. It really is a tale of the war unlike any other I’ve ever read. Many of you have very possibly already read this book, but if you haven’t or if it’s been on your “to-read” list too, then I highly recommend you pick it up – soon!
A favorite passage of mine from the book:
“Steadily, the room shrank, till the book thief could touch the shelves within a few small steps. She ran the back of her hand along the first shelf, listening to the shuffle of her fingernails gliding across the spinal cord of each book. It sounded like an instrument, or the notes of running feet. She used both hands. She raced them. One shelf against the other. And she laughed.” – The Book Thief