Markus Zusak brings a heart-warming, thought provoking tale to life in The Book Thief.
Narrated by Death, it cleverly takes us a journey of a young girl and words. Set in the rough times of Nazi Germany, we’re given an insight of the damage caused on 33 Himmel Street. With such powerful characters and a gripping story, I was glued to the book, wanting more.
Relationship and love is emphasized rather than the draught of survival. The binary and selflessness of going against Hitler and protecting a Jew, gives us the chills of danger yet a moment to escape. Liesel Meminger’s character is lovable in so many ways, where she ultimately grows from a seed of words. Forming friends with Max, a disguised Jew, she begins to learn how the world is truly one ugly place. Her hatred towards the inseparable measures of abuse to Jews becomes evident.
Papa, Hans Hubermann, the man who plays the accordion with his silver eyes keeps her going and proves to be a man of wise words. The momentum of love and support through hard times gives Liesel the strength of hope. Zusak portrays the causes and effect through Papa’s character. What its like to go against the norm, and how its not ok but still ok in our eyes to somewhat disagree with Hitler’s stubborn words. Carefully his warm heart and kindness is showered in moments in the book where we’re eager for peace and the ruling to disappear.
Relationships are a key momentum in The Book Thief, whereby Liesel is accompanied with a great friend, Rudy Steiner. This where the intervals of comedy shine through and give us a chance to be kids again. Stealing apples and potato’s, to precarious walks along Amper River remind us of what childhood was like back in the good ol’ days. Yet most importantly, it reminds us of how precious friendship is, this token of being there for one another in literally any kind of phase. That’s what Rudy is like. He is always there. The wingman on thirsts for thievery, but also his infamous quest and well thirst for a kiss by the book thief. Sweet.
Zusak combines a range of characters which almost have a story of their own intertwined within Liesel’s journey. The Mayors wife, Ilsa Hermann opens the gateway of reading, welcoming Leisel to her library. Her soft yet cold presence with empty words keeps the tale moving forward, making us wanting to know more. Simple yet relatable additions of Frau Diller’s shop enable us to visually picture Himmel Street. Frau Holtzapfel’s memorable breakdown and brave sons, beomoce a malleable piece of everyday life in those times. Rosa’s aggressive ‘Saukerl/Saumensch’ language together with her strands of elastic hair, make us question whether she has a nicer side. Though, moments of her optimistic support prove her loyal heart. Of course, Max’s feathery, twig-like hair and continuum illustration and words which not only inspire us but remind us that good people still exist. His provoking drawings question society in a way we question the war.
The Book Thief is definitely a worthy reading, where you will be left with a mixture of feelings, but most importantly the realisation of how important it is to love one another. The little snippets of text integrated in the book keeps the tale moving, where we somewhat become friends with our fellow narrator, Death. Although Death is cold hearted, it’s human-like nature and ability to grasp such stories is exquisite.
One of my favourite books. I can’t wait to now catch up on the Film.
My Rating: 9.5/10
Written by: Meera Darji