Friday, January 10, 2014

The Book Thief

The Book ThiefThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Zusak, M. (2006). The Book Thief. NY: Knopf Books for Young Readers.
YA / Adult for YA / historical fiction

I gave this book 5 of 5 stars

Truly, one of the best books I've ever read. EVER. When I finished reading it, I sat probably fifteen minutes and let it just sink in -- I thought about the characters and the place and the events, and I am truly going to miss being a part of it.

Zusak tells an important story that needs to be included when kids read Anne Frank. It is a reminder that not all Germans were Nazis, and there were plenty who didn't believe in Hitler's plans. There were many regular people, HUMAN people who were struggling, questioning, faithful, and fearful.  Many valued family and love and doing the right thing. History so rarely gives us a glimpse of those people, the ones who suffered for the suffering.

THE BOOK THIEF is unique in so many ways -- from the narrator (Death), to throwing foreshadowing right out and replacing it with spoilers: throughout, readers are told how things turn out for the various characters, but the writing is so enthralling, that we hardly mind knowing.

And the characters. . . rich, vibrant, living, haunting characters. I felt like I knew these people -- like they were part of my own neighborhood or past. Zusak masterfully fleshed-out a wide variety of unique personalities.

The length of the book is daunting at 500+ pages, but once begun, the pages fly by because the story is so compelling. There is plenty of white space and breaks, which also helps speed it along, so if you can get a reluctant reader to start, he/she will most certainly finish.

There is some language -- conveniently translated in both German and English -- but it perfectly fits the characters who use it. And of course, being war time, it's violent. Lots of death, lots of pain and suffering, but throughout is a shimmer of hope, too.  Though it's recommended for ages 12-17, I feel some of it may be a bit intense for the low end of that range, but adults can read and take away an entire different experience -- I would encourage parents and children to read it together.

I cannot recommend this book enough, and I truly feel a little changed for having read it.   

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