After one brief attempt a couple months ago, I decided to tackle The Book Thief again. It was one of the three books chosen to read for the college book club, so I resolved to work through it even though it’s not a book I would typically read.
Actually, that is one of my reading goals this semester, to read more classics or books that are a bit deeper than the Young Adult new releases. I’ve done pretty well so far. I’ve read Fahrenheit 451 and now The Book Thief and I have plans for others.
The Book Thief follows the life of ten year old Liesel and her experiences in Nazi Germany. She is sent to live with foster parents in Molching, and has difficulties with the cultural changes taking place around her as well as her own coming of age. The plot reaches defining moment when her foster parents take in Jewish fugitive, offering him shelter in the basement. Of course, as the title would suggest, Liesel has developed a habit of stealing books. Liesel and the Jew, Max, bond over their need for stories, as a way of healing and discovery.
It seemed like I was stuck in the first quarter of the book for a while, but I could have predicted that would happen. With the magnitude of the storyline, it needed enough time to really set up the characters, and the plot. Once Max appeared in the basement writing stories on ripped out pages of a Nazi manual, and Liesel began taking books out of the mayor’s library, I found myself turning page after page.
Markus Zusak is a very talented writer, making the world of Nazi Germany a vivid, living place. The turmoil of violence, mislead innocents, and brave, young souls. This amazing work had me up into the middle of the night so I could finish Liesel’s story. With so many stories about the pain and suffering of World War II, The Book Thief is a wonderful reminder that a thread of hope was always woven within as well.