World War II. What do you think of when you read that; pain, sufferings or hardships? A situation which most of us cannot even begin to contemplate, simply because such cruelty and desperation is not something we are really familiar with.
The Book Thief, written by Markus Zusak, does a wonderful job of portraying the horrors of Nazi Germany from a German child’s perspective. The narration gives us a fresh, interesting perspective of the world and human life, done as it is by a being that is not human, but is far wiser and more experienced than us all- Death.
Death tells us a story-born amidst the beginning of a long and bloody war, Liesel Meminger is the daughter of Communists, another group of people whom Hitler despised. In order to save her daughter, Liesel’s mother takes her to a foster home. Liesel’s brother dies on the train ride to her new home, and Liesel arrives feeling completely abandoned and alone, not understanding why her mother left her. Slowly though, she
accepts her new life, and begins to open up to people. Her new parents are caring people, and unlike most of the small and poor towns, are not swept away by Hitler’s propaganda.
She befriends Rudy, a boy who lives on her street and idolizes Jesse Owens. As time passes, Liesel steals books from different places, books which all end up meaning a lot to her. Hans Hubermann-Liesel’s father-had previously been to war, where a friend of his saved his life and ended up dying himself. That friend also happened to be a Jew, who’s son was desperately seeking protection.
Hans Hubermann, a loyal and faithful friend, agrees to shelter the boy in his house, even though doing so was extremely, extremely dangerous. This story is about being different at a time where it was dangerous, and even life-threatening to be so. It is about staying true to your beliefs, as well as your promises, and sticking together.
This book is one of my favorites, because each and every time I read it, it doesn’t fail to move me. It is
painfully honest, and the characters are very real as well. I can feel both their joy and their pain as I connect with them through the pages. Death too becomes very well known to the reader, and we can see how death laments taking life from people, and is actually much more kindhearted than anyone would expect.
This book also raises powerful questions about faith in humanity and the dominance of love over hatred. All in all, this book definitely deserves to be placed on a shelf alongside your collection of classics!
About the author: Markus Zusak is an Australian author born in 1975. Other books of his include The
Messenger, The Underdog, Fighting Ruben Wolfe, and When Dogs Cry.
His works have been acknowledged and praised by both Australian and American critics, and he has been proclaimed a literary phenomenon, especially well known for his poetic prose.
By Ayushi Vig