Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Book Thief by Marcus Zuzak

Please bear with me as I migrate my blogs from a hosted site to Google Sites. Although relatively simple it is still time consuming and arduous. Anyway here is the review of one my favourite books. Anyone I have recommended it too has had nothing but praise.

What would you expect from a book that starts with the statement: “You are going to die”?

Not much, unless of course the narrator is ‘Death”.

I first heard about Markus Zusak’s award winning book on a radio interview and thought to myself it sounded like a good read. It wasn’t until a year later that I recalled the interview and bought a copy and kicked myself for missing out on what would probably become one of my favourite books.

The story follows Liesel Meminger as she first buries her six year old brother beside the train tracks on her way to foster parents. She then acquires “The Gravedigger’s Handbook” which earns her title.

The narrator then follows her life as he continues his task of “handling souls to the conveyor belt of eternity” as he gets “very busy” throughout the course of the second world war.

Living with the Hubermanns in a small town of Molching outside Munich, she endures the war with her foster parents Rosa and Hans as she turns to her stolen books for solace. Having lived through a similar experience is probably why I related so much to the character. Liesel uses the stories in the stolen books to distract the people huddled in the Fiedlers’ basement during air raids. Her love of stories also drives Max Vandenburg, a Jew who is hiding in their basement to write “The Standover Man“.

The narrator, Death, while making dry jokes about his profession, tells us of Liesel’s struggle, and her strength and resilience through it all as she almost succumbs to his grasp.

“The Book Thief” is not a standard war story. It is the story of a small family and how they tried to survive as the world began to change around them. I have no doubt that just like the narrator, the reader will not be able to escape the book’s reach.

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