Friday, July 20, 2012

The Book Thief, Markus Zusak (5 stars)

From Amazon: 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.

The best book I’ve read this year, if not the best book I’ve ever read. I’d elevate my star scale simply to give this a 6 and then retire 6s.

There’s nothing more exhilarating than reading a book destined to be a classic. Narrated by death, the story of Liesel is powerful. When Liesel witnesses her brother’s death, her book thievery begins. In a world no child should have to understand, books represent her struggle to survive.

Do you ever get a song stuck in your head? You can be in the grocery store unable to shake its melodic grip on your brain. After humming it for days, you try to listen to other music to shake it. You can’t. That is The Book Thief.

I’m struggling to summarize the brilliance and intricacy of this story. Every word has meaning and does its part to create unforgettable characters and storyline. Throughout, Death talks about the job of delivering souls during World War II. From the back cover: Death has never been busier and will become busier still.

Death notices Liesel pick up her first stolen book: The Grave Digger’s Handbook. Normally averse to knowing people’s stories, Death can’t help but become connected to Liesel. He sees her many more times as he picks up other souls.

When her foster father’s commitment to a past war buddy results in the family hiding a Jew in their basement, Liesel’s life will never be the same. Max bonds with the girl through stories and pictures. Ultimately, he must leave and Liesel faces another loss. She will have to face many more.

This story will hold your heart prisoner. It haunted my dreams at night, and I know Liesel and her story will stay with me. I’ve given 5 stars before, but never have I so fully believed a book should be read before now. This needs to be in classrooms, on bookshelves, and in people’s minds.

I couldn’t agree more with the sentence from Amazon: This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

Rating: 5 stars


This book was part of my 2012 TBR (To Be Read) Pile Challenge. Now, I only have nine more to read the rest of the year. No pressure!

This book also counts as book one of my 2012 Book Blogger Recommendation Challenge. Nine more to go there, too.

Thankfully, I love to read. Bring it on!


Adam said...

I've had this book on my shelf since its publication date... and there it sits, unread. I think I've been resistant because of all the hype and high praise surrounding it - I worry that I'll be the one person let down!

I really think I'll have to get this book read before the end of the year, though - praise like this just can't be ignored.

Tia Bach said...

Adam, I feel the same way you do about over-hyped books, but this one lives up to it. I, too, had it sitting there and used this challenge to "force" myself to read it.

If you do finally read it, please pop back here and let me know if it lives up to all you've heard.