More Than Stolen Books

Markus Zusak‘s The Book Thief is another book that qualifies for the Irresistible Review Challenge. I found this book on The Hidden Side of the Leaf blog and a number of others. Only one more book to go for this challenge.

I want to start off by saying, this was not a book I instantly loved. I had trouble getting into the story for the first 80 pages are so because of the disjointed and disruptive narrator. I now understand the reason for the interruptions, given the narrator’s identity, but I still was not overly thrilled with it, particularly when major plot points, like which characters will die, are given away before the story comes up several chapters later.

***Spoiler Alert***

Anna and I discussed how given the fact that the narrator is death and we all know that we are going to die someday, it makes sense that Death would tell the reader beforehand what he knows, even though as humans we have no idea when we are going to die…just that we are. Though this explanation eases my irritation, I still think the narration could have been done differently.

The story begins with a young girl’s train ride to Molching. Her brother dies on the train ride and at his funeral, her thievery begins. She steals a gravedigger’s manual. This starts her journey of words and reading. Her mother leaves her with foster parents and never returns, despite all of Leisel’s hopes. However, she grows to love her foster family in the midst of the Nazi’s rise to power. While she is mostly sheltered from the atrocities surrounding her, and joins the Youth Hitler Group, she still remains naive in a way. She believes that humans are genuinely good, even though she and her friend, Rudy Steiner, steal apples and other items from friends, neighbors, and farmers.

She grows up as the war grows stronger and the German armies begin to trudge into Russia and Jews are marched through the streets to concentration camps. It is not until Max Vandenburg arrives on her foster parents’ doorstep. The Jew changes her life. While her Papa taught her to read, Vandenburg teaches her to dream, and the mayor’s wife teachers her to reach for the stars in spite of the sadness that enters her life.

***End Spoiler Alert***

There is a great deal going on in this book, and I would recommend it to young and adult readers. It’s a good work of fiction that takes a look at the German side of the equation present during the Holocaust. The Germans who feared their own government, disagreed with the tactics used, but also agreed that their livelihoods would improve if the Jews were gone. But it also is a story of how these individuals dig into themselves to find the best reaction they can to their given situations. Their humanity in the face of adversity is sometimes troubling, and sometimes admirable. While the book thief, Liesel, is stealing books and words, she is also stealing some of the Fuhrers’ thunder…his ability to use words to spur hate and death.

Anyone who also has reviewed this, please send me the link.

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