The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

The narrator of this story, set in Nazi Germany, really is an unusual one – it is DEATH himself.
Unexepectedly, his quality of narration is rather good. He tells the story of initially nine year old Liesel Meminger whom he encountered on three different occasions as he came to collect the souls of people close to her. Something in her prevents the grim reaper of letting go and entirely against his nature he decides to keep in touch. In the end, he becomes her storyteller, the chronist of her life.

The story begins with a train journey Liesel takes together with her mother and her younger brother Werner. A journey Werner doesn’t survive. First encounter with the strange narrator. A funeral follows at which Liesel nicks her first book. After the funeral Liesel’s mother decides to take Liesel to foster parents because she fears she couldn’t take proper care of her daughter – the hardest decision a mother could possibly take.

Liesel’s foster father Hans Hubermann turns out to be a kind and sweet Joe-Gargery-of-Great Expectations-type of man who is not equipped with the best of educations but with a most loving and caring attitude towards Liesel, even if she is not his own daughter. Like Joe Gargery Hans Hubermann has to deal with the rough „love“ of his wife Rosa (isn’t the choice of name gorgeous, you hear „Rosa“ and imagine a little, fine and fragile lady and what you end up with is a shouting and swearing woman with favorite words like „Saukerl“ and „Arschloch“). 😀
But don’t get this wrong: Despite of all the shouting and cursing, Rosa is someone who is tough on the outside and soft on the inside. When it really comes down to it – and believe me, in the course of events it comes down to it – she shows her real quality of character.

The Book Thief is the kind of novel I have much difficulties to write a review about. On one hand it’s because I am afraid to give too much away of the inherent spirit of the book, the thing which makes the whole story function as it does. The other thing is: I don’t really want to. Some books are almost magic in the way that each person who reads them experiences them very individually. The story is too dear to me to ruin this personal touch.
Simply READ IT! You won’t be sorry, I promise. 🙂


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