Tuesday, 4 July 2017

A Review of The Book Thief

The Book Thief is a book by Markus Zusak. Liesel is nine years old when this book starts, being sent to live with foster parents on Himmelstrasse (as the book will remind you enough times, this means Heaven Street.) She can't read, but becomes fascinated by a small book she finds on the ground. Over the course of the next few years, she learns to read, steals more books, fits into the family life becomes good friends with a neighbour, and ends up hiding the kind of secret that in Nazi Germany could get everyone she knows killed. Also, the book is narrated by Death.

I will state that I've long had an interest in German history, particularly that surround the Berlin Wall, but of course knowledge of the Holocaust is important to lead up to it. My German language is conversational - I could 'talk' my way around as a tourist, but I couldn't debate a serious topic in the language. With that being said, however, I am no expert and I don't feel I could comment on any historical accuracies of the book. However, I like that it reminds people that life wasn't all sunshine and rainbows for many ordinary Germans living at that time.

The Book Thief is another of those books that defy categorisation. I've seen it tagged with the young adult label, and in the young adult section of bookstores. However, I see literally no reason why an adult with an interest in German history wouldn't enjoy this book. I know I've definitely seen adults reading it. So I would ask why it happens to be placed in that section? And not that it's not also a great book for teenagers learning about WW2, or that there can't ever be good writing in YA. It is just that with books placed there, many of those who would enjoy it won't see it.

There really isn't a (main) character in this book who I dislike. It's, rather unusually, narrated by death, a rather cheerful chap who has a pretty unpleasant job, but he knows it is an important one. I loved Liesel and her desire to read, her attempts to get her hands on as many books as she can. Rudy is possibly one of the best childhood-friend-slash-love-interest I've read in fiction. Rosa can seem rather harsh at times, but her love for Liesel and care for Max comes through. Hans is just lovely throughout the book. It's a wonderful way to show that people can find happiness as a family other than the one they're born into.

The film is one of those that really catches the spirit of the book. It's what I'd consider a companion film - you wouldn't miss anything if you've read the book but didn't watch the film, but it's still a sweet film on it's own merits. However, if you watched the movie but haven't read the book, than yes, you absolutely should read it.

I recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in German history.

1 comment:

  1. This is one of those books that I've been seeing everywhere for years, but never quite got to - I need to read it!
    Megan @ http://www.wanderingsofabookbird.blogspot.co.uk