Book Review: “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak

Sep 26, 2012 by

Book Review: "The Book Thief" by Markus ZusakI feel like I may be just about the last person in the book blogosphere to read The Book Thief.  But just in case you haven’t either…..  No.  I can’t really give you a coherent synopsis.  It is the story of the book thief, as told from an omniscient and omnipresent narrator…  concentrating on the thief’s life as a German girl in Nazi Germany.  She is living with a foster family, and can barely read the alphabet.  It is her foster father who teaches her how to read the words from the first book she stole.  Learning to read gives our young thief the power to survive the war.

This book contains scenarios you’d expect from any book set in Nazi Germany; Germans who love the Fuhrer, Germans who don’t.  Jewish people persecuted, Jewish people hiding.  Bombs.  Death.  Hunger.  It is put together in such a way that is compelling and intense and incredibly emotional.  The narrator makes no secret about what is going to happen, but allows the words to show their strength, their beauty and their weight in the telling.  The complexity of the human condition is shown in all its colors, and it I just found myself getting wrapped up in all of it.  I had trouble putting the book down, even when bawling my eyes out.

I will keep these characters with me for a long time to come.  They are brilliantly crafted, and just became real to me.  I just loved them, loved them all.  As an added little bonus, Mama used some German words quite often and they are now ingrained in my mind.  I have had dreams in which I’m calling someone a saumensch or saukerl.  The words just sound so guttural, so heavy and insulting – perfect for their purpose really – and I don’t even think I’m pronouncing them correctly.  By the end of the book, I was torn.  I didn’t want to stop reading, I didn’t want this experience to end, but I needed to know what happened to these people.  I needed to know how exactly their story played out.  It was beautiful.

Just on the off chance that I wasn’t the last person out there to read this, trust me when I say to go out and start reading this.  Now.  You will thank me later, I promise!

The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak
Knopf, 2005
550 pages
Source:  Gift – and THANK YOU!
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