The Book Thief

The Book Thief

By Markus Zusak

I was in search of a used book to read and had no idea what to buy. I came across The Book Thief and was immediately grabbed by the title. The brief description (online because that is where I like to satisfy my book cravings + stores bring out my apparent agoraphobia) mentioned something about a person who fell in love with words. I didn’t read anything else- as a passionate bibliophile, a title about stealing books tied with one sentence about adoring words was all it took.

Rarely am I wowed by a book. Hardly ever do I savor each word and hope the story can somehow go on forever. Never have I referred to a novel as flawless.

Until I read The Book Thief.

Set in Nazi Germany during WII, this is the story of Liesel, a young girl who begins stealing books and develops a passion for literature and language, all while her adopted family hides a Jew in their basement. Liesel is an incredible character who is so layered and real that I had to repeatedly remind myself that she had been crafted.

The entire novel is told from the perspective of death. This might sound a little hokey, but it isn’t.

The character of death is complex, gentle, and absolutely beautifully written. Throughout the story, death struggles to understand humanity but finds itself drawn to Liesel, her story, her perseverance, her bravery, and her unadulterated (sorry, there is n better term) humanity.

This book does not offer the typical WWII story. Though they are present (obviously and ominously) the book is not about the Holocaust, Nazism, War, or politics- it is about what happens to life when pure tragedy, suffering, hate, and oppression are forced upon it.

The Book Thief not only reminded me of my own adoration of literature and language, but reinvigorated it completely. This book moved me more than I would ever have expected. Candidly, this book absolutely dazzled me.

I had a strange conflict about reviewing this book- I obviously want everyone to experience what I did, but I also feel protective- consumed with distress that some people might read it who don’t love literature and language the way I do and thereby somehow do not deserve this book. But, after thinking it over, even if you begin this book as the sort of reader who only has casual flings with books, I believe reading this novel will instill a new passion in you, will change the way you think of the power of words, and will make you worthy of it.

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