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. Goodreads
About the Book:
Author: Markus Zusak
Book length: 560 pages
Published: March 14, 2006
Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction, YA, Historical, War
Rating: 5 out of 5 quills
Starting reading: July 20
Finished reading: July 27
“She did not back away or try to fight me, but I know that something told the girl I was there. Could she smell my breath? Could she hear my cursed circular heartbeat, revolving like the crime it is in my deathly chest? I don’t know, but she knew me and she looked me in my face and she did not look away.
As the sky began to charcoal toward light, we both moved on. We both observed the boy as he reached into his toolbox again and searched through some picture frames to pull out a small, stuffed yellow toy.
Carefully, he climbed to the dying man.
He placed the smiling teddy bear cautiously onto the pilot’s shoulder. The tip of its ear touched his throat.
The dying man breathed it in. He spoke. In English, he said, “Thank you.” His straight-line cuts open as he spoke, and a small drop of blood rolled crookedly down his throat.
“What? Rudy asked him. “Was hast du gesagt? What did you say?””
What did I think of the book?
Truly, I don’t know if a book fascinated me any more than this one has. I’ve never read anything like it. It’s an amazing book. For us, living in The Netherlands, this book is closer to home than for Americans or Australians. WWII happened where I live too.. So I got a lot of WWII history from the Europe side in school. This book had events in it close to what happened in history. If it weren’t for the narrator in this book, you could say it was non-fiction.
Why it fascinated me so much? It was told by Death. Yes, Death as a person, the narrator. There were translations between the paragraphs. Because the story was set in Molchin, a German village near Munich. His explanations, translations and thoughts in between the story made it a story like no other.
The main characters in the book were lovely. Markus gave them so much personality, colour and feeling, it was astounding.
Liesel: What a strong girl is she… Seeing her brother die before her, losing her mother and being placed into a new home is already difficult, but living in and surviving from the Second World War.. That’s having strength… I love Liesel her stubbornness, her thrive to learn and be better. Every night learning how to read with the person she loves most, papa. Every day enduring school in Nazi Germany, her mother’s chores and cursing. Getting laughed at in school for not being able to read as good as they are. But she stands up for herself, punches the biggest bully and still wants to read. That’s how she became the Book Thief.
Papa: Survived WWI, has meager business, despises the Nazi’s and fulfills a promise to an old friend. Endangers his whole family to protect one. Plays music on the accordion like no other. Every night he sits with Liesel, after her nightmares, and teaches her to read, every night falling asleep in the wooden chair. Every night, having only a few hours to sleep and still works the next day to provide the little money he can earn. A man who fights for his cause, does what he needs to save his family and sees Liesel as his own.
Mama: Always cursing on everyone and everything. Makes the same soup for dinner every day. Does the same laundry route every day. But love Liesel a lot, loves her husband a lot, even though she shows her affections in the way of cursing all day. But underneath all the cursing and swatting, she wants to provide for her family and protect them with all she’s got.
Max: The Jew-boy, the son of Papa’s friend. The promise papa made. Max, always in hiding, feeling he’s to blame. But an artist at that. A true friend to Liesel, both learning to spell correctly in the basement. Even without the means to buy anything, he makes the perfect birthday gift. A jew who knows Mein Kampf is what saved him, who knows Mein Kampf is what made a little girl happy. A jew who’s forced to live in hiding, who’s forced to flee again and again, a jew who’s caught…
Rudy: The boy from a few doors down, the boy with a lot of siblings, the boy who painted his face black and sprinted on the tracks because Jesse Owens was his hero, the boy who was Liesel’s best friend and loved her. The boy who never lived to get his kiss.
A story so fascinating, because of world-building – the reality in it was astounding -, the characters and the storyline. A story made fascinating by the Narrator. A story that made me cry…
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