Hey ya’ll!! Welcome back to my first book review of the year (and my first one since November)! I’ve said it a few times now, but I’m going to start working on posting reviews more frequently maybe if I say it enough it’ll become reality. Honestly, I kind of miss writing them, and hopefully I’ll keep it up from here.
Today, I’ll be reviewing one of my favorite books of 2019, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.
Title: The Book Thief
Author: Markus Zusak
Published: December 18th 2007
Genre: Historical Fiction, YA, Coming of Age
Summary: It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will be busier still.
By her brother’s graveside, Liesel’s life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger’s Handbook, left behind there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordian-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever there are books to be found.
But these are dangerous times. When Liesel’s foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel’s world is both opened up, and closed down.
In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.
This was a really emotional coming-of-age book set in Nazi Germany during World War II. It has a really unique narrator who follows the life of Liesel, after the death of her little brother, and her placement in a foster home. Originally, it was slow, but towards the second half, I was really attached to all the characters, and I loved the story. The ending hit me so hard even though I knew it was coming.
Quote: “The only thing worse than a boy who hates you: a boy that loves you.”
*Characters. I love the characters. They were real and so wholesome. Liesel, Rudy, Mama, Papa, the Mayor’s wife, all the characters on Himmel street played a role in making this book what it is. Death as well, was a phenomenal narrator, and it was so interesting seeing the story from his point of view. I loved the relationships between each of the characters, and how they loved each other, despite Mama seeming really harsh. She still loved Liesel so much, and it made me feel so warm and happy to see all of their interactions with one another. Rudy was hilarious, mischievous, and very much a saukerl. Papa was kind, patient, and adoring. Mama was harsh, loud, but still loving underneath. The Mayor’s wife was quiet, kind, and so lonely. All of them supported Liesel in their own way, and I loved reading about their lives.
*Death. Having death as a narrator was different and really interesting. It was sad, it was painful, and I sympathized with him so much. One thing I didn’t expect was for me to like having him as a narrator. He’s not this gloomy cruel thing that loves death. He had feelings. He was real. You could feel the sorrow and sadness coming from him. It made me sad that he had to see so much horror and that he had such a depressing job.
*Story. I like how the story moved through the years, pointing out the big events, and mentioning the small ones as well. It was a coming of age over several years, and even though the pacing was slow to start, I got used to it later on and I didn’t want it to end. I just wanted their story to continue, to see all the mischief and adventures that Rudy and Liesel would have, to see them grow up and grow old. It was so heartfelt and I loved it.
Quote: “I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.”
*Max. Max was really interesting. What happened to him was horrible, but I’m glad that he still survived, that he found a family with the Hubermanns. I’m also glad that he found a way to express himself, and that he became Liesel’s reading companion. There’s so much power and beauty in words, and instead of falling into depression, or chronically over stressing, he wrote his story and stayed the strong despite the bleakness of his situation.
*Books. The book starts off with Liesel stealing a grave digger’s handbook, and it becomes a passion of hers. She has Papa teach her how to read, and as the years pass, she swipes books when she can to read some more. She meets the Mayor’s wife while doing laundry for her, and discovers a library full of so many books. The best thing is that the Mayor’s wife lets her come and read, which makes Liesel’s knowledge and power with words grow. I’m glad that books held such a special place in Liesel’s heart.
*Message. This book has several messages, and all of them are so important. Nazi Germany was a horrible time, and I loved how the Hubermanns, and Liesel, fought Hitler in their own way. They hid a Jew, showed sympathy to other Jews despite the severe consequences, and used Hitler’s own powerful device, words, to fight and tell their own story. This was about giving them a voice, when they didn’t have any. This was about doing what’s right, even when your whole country, your own son, is against you. It also offered a new perspective, because this was the first time that I’ve read a book about a non-Jewish German family hiding a Jew in their own home. It’s about the horrors of war, of the Holocaust, and how it can affect one small family that just wants to stay far away from it. And I absolutely loved it.
*Ending. That ending punched me so. hard. It still hurts to think about it. You know it’s coming, you get warned beforehand, but I still spent a few hours crying, feeling so much pain and sadness for all these amazing characters.
Quote: “Like most misery, it started with apparent happiness.”
*Slow. Starting out, it was slow, and I was a little impatient because of it. But once I got used to the pacing, and I began to like the characters, I didn’t care that it kind of dragged anymore.
Quote: “He does something to me, that boy. Every time. It’s his only detriment. He steps on my heart. He makes me cry.”
In the end, I loved this, I would highly recommend it, and I hope you enjoy it if you read it! The characters are so interesting, and it was so heartwarming to read about their lives. The ending shattered me. Great job to Zusak for absolutely destroying my heart.
One sentence summary: A heartbreaking and important historical fiction novel with amazing characters and books.
Overall, 5 shining stars.
That’s it for today! I’m working on my Monthly Wrap-Up post, so you can expect that either tomorrow or Thursday.
Have you read The Book Thief? What did you think? Am I the only one who fell in love with Mama as the story progressed? What are some of your favorite World War II books? Chat with me in the comments below!!