Many people fear discussing death, the holocaust, and the devastating burning of taboo books during Nazi Germany all at once, well, unless you are Markus Zusak. In this great novel, Markus Zusak tells us an amazing fictional story about a little girl who loves stealing books and has several encounters with death himself. It is a witty, humorous novel that will make you laugh, cry, and fear all within some 500 pages. The fact that the book was quickly adapted into a motion picture just shows the magnitude of influence the book has had since it got published in 2005.
Narrated by Death himself, the book tells the story of a young girl called Liesel, who steals books. After the tragic death of her brother, Liesel goes to live with her foster parents, Hans and Rosa Hubermann. She has to part ways with her mother because her mother cannot afford to look after her.
Liesel does not know how to read but Hans supports her and teaches her slowly and steadily how to read a whole manner of different things. She picks up her reading passionately and her curiosity is aroused further and further till she decides to start stealing books that they have been taught are very bad.
We are then introduced to a Jewish boy called Max Vandenburg who suddenly comes knocking on the door of the Hubbermans. He requests to be secretly hosted by them as a favor owed to Max’s father by Hans. Being a family with a kind heart, then take in the boy and host him in their basement. Max’s father had died sometime back during the first world war.
As the story continues unraveling, Liesel also grows up further as she realizes that the world might be more dangerous than she thought. All through her life, she meets, bonds, and interacts with many people including Rudy; a great fan of American athlete Jesse Owens. He sheepishly always asks for a kiss from the adamant Liesel. We see several characters die through time as the horror of war is depicted. Death continues narrating as he is uncannily drawn to this particular ‘book thief’.
When the story draws towards its conclusion, Max is forced to leave the family that has kept him safe for so long, in order to keep them, as well as himself, safe. The departure is teary as well as much of the book but the comical nature keeps a great balance that makes for a very sweet story that churns up your emotions. A fair warning is that as you read this book, have your box of tissues near because you will probably cry like a little child.
The most interesting aspect of this story is just how the entire story fits very well. It is like different puzzle pieces that fit together perfectly to give you a wonderful story. While the book addresses very serious issues, it does not lag behind on its comical nature. It is a book that fits perfectly for audiences of all ages and demographics. If you want a book that will make you appreciate the little things in life while taking you to a different world fully (where Death is a narrator), then this is the book for you.
There are so many lessons to be learned throughout the book and a simple blog cannot exhaust it. So the best alternative is to grab this book for yourself and go through this journey that might leave you gasping for more. I am not even hesitant in saying that this might actually be Markus Zusak’s best work yet.