**spoiler alert** I added this book to my to-read list after seeing some good reviews for it on GoodReads. Then I joined a YA book club on the site an...more**spoiler alert** I added this book to my to-read list after seeing some good reviews for it on GoodReads. Then I joined a YA book club on the site and they chose this as their book to read for April.
It is a story of a girl (Liesel) who is sent to live with foster parents after her own parents were taken away to a concentration camp in Nazi Germany. The story follows her progress with this new family, through school and in new friendships. The story is somewhat unique in that it is narrated by Death. This proves very effective and adds a new layer to the book. This is categorized as a YA book, but personally if I’d read this as a 13 year old I don’t think I’d have appreciated it as much as I did reading it now.
Certain parts of the book (and the relationships in it) really spoke to me. The relationship between Liesel and Hans Hubermann is wonderful. He treats her and nurtures her as if she was his own child, and the love between the two is something really special. This touched a place in my heart as the man who brought me up was not my biological father, but was the only person I will ever call dad. Sadly he died 4 years ago. This meant that I was able to understand Liesel’s pain at losing Papa at the end of the book. Also her relationship with Max, the Jew that the Hubermanns took in and looked after, was really touching. It seemed to me that she saw Max as a replacement for her brother who died on the way to Himmel Street. Max and Liesel grew closer as the book went on, and it was wonderful to see this relationship develop.
The book really brought home the suffering and torture that the Jews were subjected to during Hitler’s regime. I found this really harrowing and difficult to read about. It made me realise how lucky I am to have what I do, and to live in a free country.
The narration by Death was an interesting twist, and I enjoyed the format in which Deaths observations were added into the book. I also liked the clues that he gave along the way as to what was going to happen later on in the book. There was a sentence of the book that struck me ‘She had her whole death ahead of her’. This was said casually in a way that one might say ‘she has her whole life ahead of her’. This is there to suggest that there is life after death, and that death is a whole new journey. I really like this idea. Also the way Death handles peoples’ souls is written very well, and the difference in the way that he handles the souls of the people who have been good, and the people that have been not so good.
All in all, this book was an excellent read, and I have the feeling I will read this again and again. For me it lived up to the hype and beyond. I would definitely recommend this to others. (less)
I didn't really know too much about this book before I read it. It was on the 'books recommended by staff' shelf at my local book store. I picked...moreWow.
I didn't really know too much about this book before I read it. It was on the 'books recommended by staff' shelf at my local book store. I picked it up as I'd also heard friends talk about it.
It's the story of Bruno, a 9 year old child in Germany, who is forced to move from his home in Berlin to somewhere he calls Out-With (obviously Auschwitz) because his father is promoted. There he looks out of his bedroom window to see a vast field behind a metal fence. He can see people in the distance, all wearing striped pyjamas. He takes a walk one day and meets a boy on the other side of the fence, called Shmuel. The story follows them as they become friends.
I couldn't put it down and I was absorbed in the story. It's not a complex story... in fact it's the simplicity that makes it so wonderful. Its pretty short, but there's still plenty packed into the pages. I can't really say more about the story than written above without giving spoilers, but I will say that it really touched me and there were a few moments in the book that brought tears to my eyes.
This is a look at an important, horrific part of history through a child's eyes and it works incredibly well. It doesn't trivialise the holocaust at all, yet conveys the naivete of the protagonist. A really moving book that has earned its place in my list of favourites.(less)
Sometimes I find it hard to put my feelings about a book into words. This is one of those books. The book is set during WWII, at the time that France...moreSometimes I find it hard to put my feelings about a book into words. This is one of those books. The book is set during WWII, at the time that France fell to Germany, and falls into two parts - the first part chronicles the journey of a group of parisiens as they flee the city; the second tells the story of a village and how they cope with the German occupation.
This book invoked a multitude of emotions. There is just no way for me to imagine how it must have made them feel for their country to be at war like that. OK, so there is the war that is currently happening in the East, however it's not happening here in our streets and so although many people are touched by it because of family members fighting, we are still somewhat removed from it. To have the war thrust in their face constantly; to see their homeland in ruin; to be completely powerless to do anything; to have no hope that things would be as they were before; I just can't imagine how that must have felt. I read this book during a busy week and so had to put it down often, yet it was still in my thoughts when I wasn't reading.
The writing was excellent. I found the author's use of decription to be perfect. Sometimes description can be overused and it really isn't in this novel, yet there is enough to give you the feeling of being there. The story is told from many different viewpoints which, again, doesn't work well in some novels, but does in this one. I found that it really enhanced the story and helped to convey the many emotions felt by those living through the horror.
This is one that will stay with me for some time.(less)