Monday, July 09, 2007
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
This book was supposedly written for young adults, but I would argue that it is really a book for people of all ages, especially for adults. It's definitely not aimed at middle school students even though the main character, Leisel Meminger, is of that age. It's an amazing, moving, wonderful book that gets more and more engrossing the more you read. Zusak chose to write about the Holocaust from the perspective of death, who isn't an evil character, he's just the one who is there to take people's souls away. Of course, death was very busy during World War II, but several times he noticed young Leisel Meminger, and he became fascinated with her story. Leisel, who is the book thief, is a German foster child in a poor family on Himmel Street in Molching, Germany. She has been given up by her mother and seen her brother die before her eyes. Her foster father, Hans Huberman, is goodness personified. Her foster mother, Rosa Huberman, is a stout, foul-mouthed, scowling woman with a great capacity to love. And her best friend Rudy Steiner is an indescribable companion whose goal in life is to be kissed by Leisel Meminger. Much tragedy befalls Leisel's family, but we get glimpses of their heroic kindness as they hide a Jew in their basement. Death is a cryptic, poetic, challenging narrator. I found myself reading and re-reading sentences to enjoy the images and the way the words were put together. Most of all I was moved by the humanity that death found on Himmel Street. It is a book that makes you cry at the evil in the world and also at the beauty that can live within the darkest circumstances. Recommended for mature teens and all adults.