Pan Macmillan Australia 2008 (first published 2005)
Synopsis- It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will be busier still.
By her brother’s graveside, Liesel’s life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger’s Handbook, left behind there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery.
So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordian-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever there are books to be found.
But these are dangerous times. When Liesel’s foster family hides a Jewish fist-fighter in their basement, Liesel’s world is both opened up, and closed down.
In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.
Review- The Book Thief, a book of simplicity and complexity all rolled into one fine book by Australian author Markus Zusak. I may be a little late to the pary in reading this book, but I’m so glad I gave it a go. Inspired by my honeymoon itinerary, The Book Thief was the one and only book I really wanted to read on my reading list for books set in Germany.
“It’s just a small story really, about, amongst other things:
some fanatical Germans
a Jewish fist-fighter
and quite a lot of thievery.”
I was captivated by this story. Initially intimidated by the page count and the expectation that this book has been so successful, I was quickly reassured when I got into the rhythm of this quirky story about a young girl, Liesel, living in Nazi Germany.
At first, I hesitantly absorbed the narrators introduction and thought to myself, oh great, is this going to be one of those books I just don’t get while everyone else loves it? But I soon fell into the rythm of the story and was surprised by how quickly I got through it and how much I really enjoyed it.
I don’t even really know what to say about this book other than I loved it. What did I love about it? It’s unique narrator perspective, the the satirical perspective of Nazi Germany that didn’t alter the impact of the atrocious events happening at that time. Liesel is an intriguing character; abandoned as a young child, witness to the death of her brother and avid book collector (a.k.a thief); she’s also a tomboy, pretty good at beating a boy in a fight and has a love/ hate relationship with her best friend Rudy. She learns to love her foster parents; her brutish mother with a foul mouth and a well hidden softer side and her father, whom she shares her love of books and learns to read. They share quite a special bond and for me, it seems that books aren’t especially what brings Liesel comfort but the connection that they create when stories are shared with others. She had this connection with her father, with the ‘Jewish fist-fighter,’ with the mayor’s wife and with the general community who she read stories to to help them pass time when the town was (at risk of being) under attack.
The writing is beautiful. The story pulled me in page by page and I felt completely wrapped up in the world of these characters. Loved it!
The Book Thief can be purchased from Fishpond and other leading book retailers