As you may remember, I’ve been reading my way through WWII. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is my latest read in this genre. Due to some stylistic choices and a story line that is close to my heart and this blog (books!), I’m naming it as one of my favorites of this genre. Here’s why:
One of the most intriguing narrators I can remember, “Death” tells this story. Death’s point of view is interesting, profound, and even humorous, dryly of course, as you would expect death’s humor to be. Death is also very tired, especially during this setting. As busy as Death is, it still takes the time to notice the color of the sky at each soul’s taking.
Set in Germany, this book gives a different perspective than other books I’ve read recently. This setting provided some insight into a smaller community (this one is outside Munich near Dachau), and not everyone here is on board with Heil Hitler.
Zusak uses broken out, bold text with capitalized headlines to drive home certain points. This method broke up the reading, and I enjoyed these clarifying moments. He also includes various uses of intertextuality – which you know I love – especially a beautiful book insert named The Word Shaker. Just wow!!
Obvious from the title, the plot besides wartime revolves around the power of the written word and books. It includes some beautiful passages about books, glorious books.
Such as when the main character, who is deprived of books, touches the books first sees and touches the books in her mayor’s wife’s library:
“She walked over and did it again, this time much slower, with her hand facing forward, allowing the dough of her palm to feel the small hurdle of each book. It felt like magic, like beauty, as bright lines of light shone down from a chandelier. Several times, she almost pulled a title from its place but didn’t dare disturb them. They were too perfect.”
As all the books in this genre that show so much suffering and horror, the beauty of unlikely friendships and those who put themselves at risk to help others is what makes it worth the read.
I can’t decide if I want to risk watching the movie or not. I may just want to leave my current emotions intact for this deeply moving and unforgettable book.
If you’ve read this book, what did you think of the movie?