The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak
Reviewed by Elizabeth H. Cottrell
5 stars out of 5
What a strangely beautiful, wildly imaginative, and profoundly moving book. The narrator is Death, who—unexpectedly—has both a sense of humor and the capacity to be touched by poignant acts of love, generosity, and courage.
The story itself—told from Death's unique perspective—follows 9-year-old Liesel Meminger, the book thief, from the day of her baby brother's death as her mother is taking them to be cared for by foster parents Hans and Rosa Hubermann at the beginning of WWII. Liesel has stolen a book that someone dropped at her brother's burial, and this begins her fascination with books and words and their many and complex levels of meaning.
The Hubermanns are not sympathetic to Hitler. For months they hide a Jew who is trying to escape Germany and let him live in their basement. As the war progresses, the family and the town experience severe deprivation and scarcity of food, paranoia, fear of Hitler's henchmen, and the heartaches of loved ones going off to war or becoming victims of the Allied bombing.
Through it all, Liesel survives physically and spiritually, and as I began to love her, I also came to love or hate the other strong characters, some of whom loved Liesel in their own way: her foster parents, her best friend, Rudy Steiner, and Max, the Jew whom she befriended.
This story is filled with sadness and heartache, yet time and again, one character or another exhibits such resiliency, courage, and integrity that it took my breath away and filled me with admiration and hope. Of course, there is always the nagging question: Could I have exhibited such resiliency, courage, and integrity under similar circumstances?
The author's odd formatting and funky way of handling timeframes were off-putting at first, but I soon found them to be highly effective in giving you glimpses of the future without losing the momentum of the narrative. This book was moving and powerful. It packed quite an emotional wallop that expanded both my mind and heart. It was the kind of reading experience I cherish for enriching my #HeartspokenLife.
If you're interested in other Heartspoken Book Reviews, CLICK HERE.
Join Our Heartspoken Community!
Each issue of our monthly Compass Points Newsletter is a quick 3-5 minute read with keys to the Heartspoken Life.
Receive surprises that lift your spirits or make your life more Heartspoken, delivered straight to your inbox.