Saturday, August 17, 2013

Recently Read: The Book Thief

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is one of the best books I have read in a long time. I have heard great things about this book since it came out in 2005, but I have always been leery to read it because of the heavy subject matter. This book follows Liesel, a young girl who lives in Nazi Germany, but what makes this book different from any other book about Nazi Germany is that this story is narrated by death. This is one of the most memorable and unique books I have read in a long time.


 Liesel and her brother are sent to live with foster parents because their mother can not take care of them. On the journey to Himmel Street, where her foster parents live, Liesel's brother dies and must be berried in a town that the train stops at along the journey. At his funeral, Liesel sees the young boy who helps dig her brother's grave drop a book out of his pocket, and she takes it. This starts a love affair with books and words for Liesel, who can not read when she steals her first book. During her stay at Himmel Street her papa teaches her to read, and she learns just how much power words can have. 
This book is of course sad and serious, but it is so beautiful. The voice of death is rhythmic and beautiful. The book contains so much emotion and sadness, but it also contains enough small victories and everyday beauty that balances out the sad. This book would be great to listen to as an audio book if you like audio books, it has a poetic quality to it. I would love to study this book in my future classroom with students whenever a requirement requires a book about the Holocaust or Nazi Germany.
I would recommend this book to everyone. Don't let the heavy subject matter scare you away from reading it. The characters are so real and loveable, and the appreciation of words and books displayed through out the novel is a treat for book lovers. There were three scenes in particular that stuck out and that I believe will stick with me for a long time after reading this novel. If you have read this novel I would love to know which scenes stuck out to you.
Also, if you are interested in reading more books about the Holocaust I would recommend Man's Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankel. This is written by a Holocaust survivor about the physiological phases a prison went through during their stay in a concentration camp and after liberation. Frankel is a very brilliant man, and this book was rather interesting to read, it offered a more personal look at the camps than some books that just offer numbers and statistics are able to offer.      

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