This book is FANTASTIC! I read it in ONE day. Awesome story...seriously.
THE BOOK THIEF
by Markus Zusak
Young Adult Historical/Literary? (Not sure how to categorize this one (g) According to Claire it isn't even marketed as YA down under... huh.)
Brief Synopsis: Liesel Mesinger is sent to live with a foster family when her mother is no longer able to support her and her younger brother. On the train ride there, her brother dies, bringing Death into Liesel's life for the first time. Over the coming years, He will return again and again, inexplicably drawn to her life story. It's 1939, Nazi Germany...and Liesel has found her one escape from the world at large. Books. Her first, The Grave Digger's Handbook, she finds at her brothers funeral, beginning her illustrious career as The Book Thief.
Okay, I'll stop there because I'm realizing I can't summarize this book properly. LOL. Obviously it deals with the beginning of WWII. It deals with the Holocaust and all of the other many issues--small and large--that go along with living in Germany at the time.
Where to begin...
OMG the characters in this book are lovely and so well-drawn. From Death (yes, Death is a character -- the narrator, in fact) to Liesel, to her best friend, Rudy...to Max, the Jew her foster family hides in their basement, to Hans and Rosa, her foster parents...and ALL of the secondary characters who leapt right off the pages of this book...I grew to love each and every one of them.
But what really stood out for me about this book was the world Zusak created. From the descriptions of air raids to the parades of Jewish prisoners on their way to Dachau... From the pressure to become a member of the Nazi party to the public scorn one received when they refused to join up... From the hunger pains experienced when rations were low, to the rush of victory over saving just one Jewish life... From the joy of first learning to read to the thrill of putting your own words down on paper...
By far one of the most unique things about this book is Death. He narrates the entire book, and I must say, I quite liked his sense of humor and vulnerability. He, by far, had the best lines in the book. Just one example:
Somewhere at the start of November, there were some progress tests at school. One of them was for reading. Every child was made to stand at the front of the room and read from a passage the teacher gave them. It was a frosty morning but bright with sun. Children scrunched their eyes. A halo surrounded the grim reaper nun, Sister Maria. (By the way--I like this human idea of the grim reaper. I like the scythe. It amuses me.)
LMAO!! Is that awesome or what? Erm, okay, maybe it's me...but I got a kick out of his little asides. (g)
Anyway, this book is just...fantastic. It hits on all of your emotions and was a wonderful ride. I can't think of a single thing to criticize. The historical details underpaint the entire thing without ever feeling overdone or like the author was hammering me over the head with his research notes.
Truly -- it's beautiful, touching...and it will haunt me for a long time.
Buy or Rent? BUY TWO COPIES -- at least. (g)