Book Review Wednesday: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (four stars)

Posted: January 13, 2016 in Uncategorized

World war two holds a lot of interest for me. So it’s a little strange that it took me this long to get around to this book.

For those not in the know, here’s the blurb:

It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

If I were to chose one word to describe this book it would be ‘beautiful.’ Really I’d want at least two more words to get a better picture. ‘Tragic’ and ‘inspiring.’

To me this book was about resilience in harsh times. It’s about normal life filled with love, friendship and little moments of happiness that can be found even when times are difficult. It’s about the decision to do the right thing, even when no one else thinks it’s right, and it may end in your death.

Our main characters are kids. They’re flawed. They’re young and start off knowing little about the war happening around them, but they learn and grow as the story carries on.

I think the author did a good job capturing the atmosphere of the times. You have some fanatics who love Hitler and everything he does. You have some who hate him and keep their mouth shut about it to survive. And you have others who care little either way. They have nothing against Jews or other minorities. But they join the party because those who don’t see their businesses suffer, and they need to feed their families.

I thought there was something very real in the everyday struggle for Liesel to learn to read while still grieving and coping with the challenges of life around her. And something very beautiful in the small acts of kindness and bravery she and Rudy carried out toward the end of the book.

All in all I give this one four stars. I can’t pinpoint an exact reason why this wasn’t five stars, except that it didn’t move me enough for that.

This is a great book and the book as a whole is very beautiful and moving, but some of the parts fell a little short for me. I found this story very very good and I think you should read it. It just didn’t feel as amazing as I expect a five star book to be. Perhaps my expectations were too high.

Anyway, if you like the idea of historical coming of age story in ww2 Germany, then try this one out. It’s narrated by death no less, which was an interesting spin on it.

For more information about this book click here.

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