I finished reading "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak a few days ago, and decided to write a quick book report on it, just to satisfy my queer fancy. This narrative, told by Death's point of view, is, in my opinion, an unforgettable story of how books and words can feed the soul and leave it musing quietly at the end. Liesel Meminger is a young foster girl living during the time of Nazi Germany, who discovers how books and words can change her life, and the lives of others around her.
Now, you may be wondering, since I don't usually read books in this genre, how did I stumble across this book? The first reason is obvious: the title. Being an avid book freak, the title itself was enough to propel me into picking it up and skimming through the first few pages. The other reason why I chose this particular book is because I heard some of my friends discussing about it, and naturally, felt compelled to read it for myself. Besides, an "older" novel (published in 2005) that had been on The New York Times' Best Seller list for over 230 weeks deserves some attention, yes?
The main character of "The Book Thief" is Liesel Meminger, the protagonist of the story. Adopted by the Hubermanns, due to her father "abandoning" the family and her mother forced to give her up, Liesel learns to cope with the hardships of life during the time of Nazi Germany, including the death of her younger brother Werner, whose spirit presence seems to both haunt and lead her along. She developed a close relationship with her foster father, Hans Hubermann, while maintaining a coarse but cordial affection with her foster mother Rosa. While growing up in the typical German school, she made friends with the other children on Himmel Street. Among those includes Rudy Steiner, who becomes her best friend, and who was constantly asking her for a personal--if not sweetly childish--favor [which I would leave you dear reader tearing out your hair in impatient frustration until you read the book for yourself; yes, I'm mean like that].
During this time of turmoil and unrest in the country, Liesel was also secretly assisting in the hiding of Max Vandenburg, a Jew, whom she befriended and nurtured a special bond. The mayor's wife also plays a role in her life, giving her the chance to borrow, to read--even to "steal"--books from her home library. But, as the narrator himself stated at the beginning, this is "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."
I'll leave the rest of the story for you to discover, although I'll take the liberty to spoil the ending for you. Yes, right now. So, after everybody she knows dies and the war ends, Liesel eventually marries, moves to Australia, and starts a family. She dies in Sydney, having always shown a true love for books--but not before she read the book she had left behind in bomb-hit Himmel Street. The book's name? "The Book Thief".
There, that wasn't so bad now, was it?
What really captured me the most is how the author had so masterfully crafted the novel into an engaging, propelling narrative of pure facts with pure truth...one won't find any sugar-coated pills here. I also love how the tale is formatted--that, again, is just my personal preference. I read the whole work in two sittings, only forced to lay it aside once to eat dinner. The only tiny thing I have to complain about are the slang German words, although that certainly contributes to the drama involved.
My final thoughts on "The Book Thief" is this: do not start reading this book unless you're prepared to be mesmerized, and unless you've adequately allotted ample time beforehand to finish the whole thing. I've learned, from this reading, that words are powerful. And yes, I'd recommend the book to others, provided that they won't mind picking up a few
And that, my lovelies, is my "short" excuse of a book report. (Who am I to complain about 685 words?)
Now, off I shall trot to my unfinished manuscript of a (childish) concept of a "real" novel...