Book Review: The Book Thief

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If I could clutch and embrace any book to feel as if I were holding the story and characters in my arms, it would be this one. My vocabulary isn’t vibrant or rich enough to describe and review this book and do it any justice. I feel as if nothing but a song playing during a particular kind of weather would describe the feeling I felt while letting this book’s words and story sink into my heart. This book will simultaneously transform your soul, rip it apart, and then mend it in a new and exceptional way. I smiled as I read through paragraphs, cried as I flipped through pages, and held my breathe as I finished chapters. If I could color highlight every line I read twice because of how compelling and spell binding they were, the book would be a rainbow of vibrant pages.

The story is about a family, their foster daughter, their secret in the basement, and the neighbors and residents of their street set in Nazi Germany. The narrator of the story is Death, and the story begins when he meets Liesel Meminger. What I loved from the beginning was the perspective, and not just Death’s, but the way the story unravels from the eyes of a 12-year-old girl. As the reader I felt I could really grasp the innocent, indifferent and aloof point of view of a German child during Hitler’s reign. This side of Germany does not get portrayed very often, and it was captivating from start to finish.

Liesel Meminger is a one of a kind lead character, this audacious, compassionate, inventive and inquisitive young girl doesn’t just touch my heart, she touches every character around her, and even grabs the attention and curiosity of Death himself. Leisel reminded and taught me about the history and power of words, their capacity, positive and negative influences, and ability to bring or transform even the darkest of times.

“He was the crazy one who had painted himself black and defeated the world. She was the book thief without the words. Trust me, though, the words were on their way, and when they arrived, Liesel would hold them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out like rain.”– Markus Zusak, the Book Thief

As if I walked down on Himmel street in Molching, Germany in 1939, I will remember these characters as if I had personally met them in the flesh. I will be think of Leisel Meminger and Rudy Steiner’s tender friendship when I spot an apple tree, the adoration in Leisel and her Mama’s eyes for her Papa when I hear an accordion play, or be reminded that every book I read has the power to change my life the way it did for Leisel Meminger and those dear to her heart. I’m never going to forget them, or the influential life changing experience this book robbed me of willingly. I want this ability, to touch and reach the inner mechanics of the human soul. The pen is still mightier than the sword, and it has had a history of doing the grandest and most devastating things of our time, but as Markus Zusak appropriately said,

“I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.”
Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

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