Friday, January 04, 2013

the book thief

I was given The Book Thief by Markus Zusak for my birthday this year and was determined to finish it before starting any of the books I was given for Christmas or any of the rest of the "Good Intentions Pile" that looms ever taller by my bed.

"1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier."


It's a tale set in a town in Germany, just as Naziism is growing ahead of WWII. The narrator is Death, which should, in some ways, make for a depressing and dark story but it doesn't. As the stories of the characters unfold and intertwine, Death looks on, sometimes stepping in but mostly watching, learning, understanding the people playing out the scenes before him. His personality is revealed as one with heart, one who cares for the men, women and children he calls upon, who arrives gently and discreetly, slipping away with a soul at the most appropriate moments.

There are many novels and stories painted in war-time Germany, but this one leads you through the creeping power of the Nazis through the story of Liesel, a politically naïve 12 year old girl placed with foster parents in the town ahead of the war, haunted by dreams of her recently dead brother. Slowly you read of her growing understanding of the war, the Fuhrer and it's implications on her new found family and friends.

It's hard to know what else to say without giving away the delights and deep sadnesses of the story. This book will lead you into a compelling world where it will whet your appetite with suspense and surprises, hold your attention by revealing aspects ahead of time, introduce you to deep characters so real you will feel like you live alongside them on Himmelstrasse and masterfully weave all these things together into a beautiful story.

On the reading list for 2013:
Letters From Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi
We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families, Philip Gourevitch
Two Kisses For Maddy, Matt Logelin
Pour Your Heart Into It, Howard Schultz

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