Katie's Reviews > The Book Thief

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
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Mar 26, 2011

it was amazing
Read in March, 2011

** spoiler alert ** Early on, I realized that this book would need patience. It's a long book and it starts off by telling you the ending - there are no surprises in this book and after a while that in itself became satisfying. The narrator does not make you wait for the ending, he tells you it and what keeps you reading is the question "how did we get from here to there?"

This is a book about a lot of things: Germany during WWII, friendship, love. It's also a book about grief and how people deal with it.

The main character is Liesel and, in herself, she's fairly innocuous. After losing her brother on her way to her new foster parents leads to some initial roughness, she warms up and spends the rest of the book being assertive, charming and generally pleasant.

In herself, I'm not sure she'd be enough to read a book about because she reads a lot like everygirl.

However, the people who surround her are very, very worth it. Her foster mother is a hilarious mix of vulgarity, abuse and love. Early on, readers realize how much her swearing covers her love for her husband and foster daughter. An excerpt:

A gang of tears trudged from her eyes as she held on and refused to go inside. People started to gather on the street until Rosa Hubberman swore at them, after which they reversed back, whence they came.

A TRANSLATION OF ROSA HUBBERMAN'S ANNOUNCEMENT:
"What are you assholes looking at?"


The narrator is sometimes a bit heavy, but I think that part of why this book works is that without some acknowledgement of the sheer scale of the war, the sheer horror of a genocide, it would be unreadable. Liesel herself is allowed to be unaware of Stalingrad and Dachau, but if readers were able to read the book which is - for a good portion of the book - a growing up story about a charming girl and the charming people who surround her, it would be almost inhumane. As much as I loved what was going on on Himmel street, it was set on the background of a Germany where Hitler was not a tyrannical power, but a beloved leader to many.
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