Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Review: "The Book Thief"

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
5 out of 5 stars

Incredible. Moving. Horrible. Terrifying. Beautiful. And more....this is what I wrote right after finishing this book back in April. I gave it 5 stars, making it only 1 of 2 5 star books this year that are not Harry Potter or the BSC. :) When I was going back through it this weekend to mark passages I wanted to talk about, I did something I haven't done since elementary school: I wrote in the book. This is just that kind of book. You have to mark the parts that are important to you, the poetry that moves you to tears, the simple words that break your heart.

"The sky is blue today, Max, and there is a big long cloud, and it's stretched out, like a rope. At the end of it, the sun is like a yellow hole..." Max, at that moment, knew that only a child could have given him a weather report like that. On the wall, he painted a long, tightly knotted rope with a dripping yellow sun at the end of it, as if you could dive right into it. On the ropy cloud, he drew two figures-a thin girl and a withering Jew-and they were walking, arms balanced, toward that dripping sun.

There's not a lot I can say about this book, except that you should read it. Everyone. I'm going to admit right up front: I hated History in school. It was my worst subject, I had a horrible time memorizing dates and facts, I failed Geography one semester in the 9th grade because I couldn't remember the state capitals. Yeah. However, I've always held an interest (absolutely NOT the right word, but I don't know what else to put) in WWII and the Holocaust. I read Night and Anne Frank in junior and high school. The Book Thief shows a different aspect of that time, telling the story of Liesel Meminger who is 9 years old in early-1939 Munich, Germany. She is not Jewish but she has "dangerous brown eyes" and Communist parents, so she is sent off to live with a foster family, Hans & Rosa Hubermann.

Liesel observed the strangeness of her foster father's eyes. They were made of kindness, and silver. Like soft silver, melting. Liesel, upon seeing those eyes, understood that Hans Hubermann was worth a lot. .... But she [Rosa] did love Liesel Meminger. Her way of showing it just happened to be strange. It involved bashing her with wood spoon and words at various intervals.

Oh and one other thing: Death is the narrator. Yep. It's not nearly as gloomy as you think it would be either. Death is kind of a comedian almost. ...he [Rudy] managed to perform his first nude "heil Hitler." In a perverse kind of way, he conceded that it didn't feel half bad. He/She/It (?) tells the story of Liesel, the book thief, as she grows up dealing with a whole heck of a lot of loss and torment and eventually into this profound story-teller.

Yes, the sky was now a devastating, home-cooked red. The small German town had been flung apart one more time. Snowflakes of ash fell so lovelily you were tempted to stretch out your tongue to catch them, taste them. Only, they would have scorched your lips. They would have cooked your mouth.

Death is gentle and kind and respectful and loves the colors of the sky and the souls they collect. Personally, I like a chocolate-colored sky. Dark, dark chocolate. People say it suits me. I do, however, try to enjoy every color I see-the whole spectrum. A billion or so flavors, none of them quite the same, and a sky to slowly suck on. It takes the edge off the stress. It helps me relax. I love colors too, in particular crayons. One of my favorite smells is a fresh box of Crayola crayons. When I was a kid, I would organize my 96-box by color, laying on the living room floor with my little sister next to me. I can definitely see how colors help Death relax lol.

I know this review has a lot of quotes from the book, but that's the only way I feel I can write it. As soon as I finished it, I wanted to go back to the beginning and start it over. That could be because I took a month and a half off in the middle of it and couldn't remember the beginning, but whatever! ;) I want to go through and underline and highlight the important parts to me. I want to inspect every silly little drawing Max made for Liesel to see what I missed the first time. I want to laugh with Death at Rudy's antics and cry for Liesel and feel the words soak into my bones.

The BEST word shakers were the ones who understood the true power of words...She was renowned as the best word shaker of her region because she knew how powerless a person could be WITHOUT words.

1 comment:

  1. I love the quotes. I love all good quotes but I tend to lose track of them with time away from a story. I guess that's what rereads are for, though.