Friday, May 18, 2012

Book Review: The Book Thief

Star Rating 5/5
The Book Thief
By Markus Zusak

Words have power. They both build and destroy. They show love. They breed hatred. Words bring about change. Liesel begins to learn this early in life when mother sends her and her brother to a foster home because her father is associated with the word “communist.” However, it takes her years to more fully recognize and understand their meaning and potential. Growing up outside Munich starting in 1939, Liesel learns more about words from her foster parents, particularly from her foster father Hans and a little black book she snatched out of the snow. As Hans teaches Leisel how to write and read, words bind them together. Books and words continue to shape Liesel’s life even as she deals with circumstances beyond her control. She matures as she weathers hardships and finds opportunities for growth.

Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief is a beautifully written book. As the novel follows Liesel’s life, the reader begins to see with Liesel how words connect us with each other and how they can change relationships and lives. Liesel’s story, which is already profound and extraordinary, takes on greater and deeper meanings through its narration by Death. Death frequently interrupts Liesel’s story to highlight words and conversations and to share important facts. These facts are often about important events and various characters’ past experience that allow the reader to more fully understand the attitudes and actions of the characters as well as the impact or magnitude of words and circumstances. Death’s commentary and Liesel’s story create a more complete illustration of the way lives intersect and how the past affects the present for both good and ill.