It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .
Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.
This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.
I finally picked this book up after 2 years of it just sitting on my shelf, and I can’t believe I didn’t read it earlier! I read this as a buddy read with my friend, which was extremely helpful for me to actually get through this book. However, once I started I physically couldn’t stop – There were many sleepless nights in the past few days. The writing was just amazing, the characters, the plot were all just brilliant. I can definitely say the book deserve all the praise its been given.
The book is narrated from Death’s perspective, and I think it’s so cool how the author has done that. It’s quite a unique perspective to write from, and it’s quite interesting to read. The one thing I didn’t like about it being written from this perspective was that the narrator spoils future events in the book. It takes away from the tension that is building throughout the book, and the narrator just drops the bomb in the middle of the book even though we’re not supposed to find out until later. I did appreciate the narrator’s sarcastic and almost dark sense of humour though, such as:
Like most misery, it started with apparent happiness.
100% Pure German Sweat
However, the characters were amazing. Liesel, the main heroine is an extremely well written character and I feel like the author did a brilliant job in writing from the perspective of a child living in Nazi Germany. Her story and her experiences are quite emotionally harrowing, but also can be enlightening at some points. Her foster parents were also very interesting characters who are literally opposites. Her father is the caring figure who sits by her bedside and reads to her, while her mother is the one who is always grumpy and complaining. However, their relationship somehow works, and it’s really interesting to see how they are counterweights to each other.
I think one of the highlights was definitely the mayor’s wife library. Liesel’s love for books is undeniable and her excitement when she first sees the library is so relateable. Another highlight was Liesel’s relationship with Max. There’s something so precious about them bonding over lost parents, and I love how Max is an older brother to Liesel. I especially love when Max gives Liesel the book he made that contains his story; it just shows how we should all cherish our precious moments with other people because you never know when their going to walk out of your life.
*accidental deep thought*
You can also tell that the book is very carefully researched, as you can see many references to Nazi Germany peppered throughout the book. Through the use of imagery and various other literary techniques, the world of Nazi Germany is encapsulated within the 600 pages. So many issues are explored in this book, from the struggles of having indoctrinated German youth, to the problems and struggles the Jewish people faced. They’re explored thoroughly in the book, and I really appreciate that.
Overall, I absolutely loved this book. There are so many stolen moments between the characters, and it’s beautifully written against a backdrop of war. I would definitely recommend it to anyone and everyone because it’s fabulous.