Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)
A young girl, Liesel, in Nazi Germany, with stolen books as her prized possessions. Her foster family, secretly, illegally sheltering a Jew. Life, Death, and the power of words meet in The Book Thief, a novel by author Markus Zusak.
I picked up a copy of the film based on this book, but I didn’t want to watch it without reading the original story first. So I read it.
I stopped reading for a while, toward the middle of it. Stopped, sighed, and wept after reading about Liesel reading one of her books, one she didn’t steal. I guess the rest of my weeping during a number of other scenes was just more of a deep, inward groan.
There were also parts that made me smile, and times when I had to pause and shake my head at some of the brilliant turns of phrase that fill this novel: ironic, ominous, and beautiful turns by turns.
Having already caught snatches of praise in the wind about this book, I did my best not to hear too much more before I read it, since a book’s wide acclaim doesn’t guarantee that I’ll personally love it. And, honestly, it’d be one thing for an author to use tragic themes from World War II and the Holocaust and to merely write a grim, sad novel, as grimness and sadness alone aren’t enough to make a novel resonate with me.
But to tell a raw, nuanced, layered, crushing, bittersweet, and haunting story that affirms life even in the midst of death… That’s something else. That resonates.
A singular work, this is.
Note to my blog readers: along with depictions of wartime violence, this book contains a moderate amount of profanity.
Shortly after I finished the novel, I did indeed watch the film.