Who would have thought that I’d find a book narrated by Death funny? But such is the case with Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief. Death narrates the adventures of Liesel Meminger, an orphan sent to live with foster parents during World War II. He—I’m assuming Death is a he—sees her stealing a book, The Gravedigger’s Handbook, during her brother’s burial. The book thief’s illustrious career, according to Death, begins there. But then the book thief’s life isn’t just about, well, stealing books. When her foster parents hide a Jew in their basement, Liesel’s life is changed forever.
Right off the bat, I fell in love with Liesel Meminger. She was spunky, tough, and slightly vulnerable, but I didn’t fall in love with just her. I fell in love with the entire cast of The Book Thief—Rudy with his lemon yellow hair, the almost-angelic Hans Hubermann, the scary but lovable Rosa Hubermann, and the Jewish fist-fighter Max Vandenburg. I even liked the door-spitter Frau Holzatpfel even if I could barely pronounce her name. The bottom line is, I cared deeply about the characters, and a book hasn’t managed to make me feel that way in a long, long time.
Gah, this book was depressing which is funny because it made me laugh out loud, too. Every time I was on the verge of crying—which was about every twenty pages, and, no, I’m not overly emotional—Zusak defused my tears by cracking a joke. But then what else could I expect about a book set in World War II Germany which also reflects about human nature? I mean, don’t we all try to see the silver lining during dark times?
By the end of the book, I was bawling like a baby. Bawling! Mockingjay managed to cloud my vision a bit, but a book hasn’t reduced me to a shivering heap of tears in a while, not since I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows three years ago. I felt like someone reached into my heart and squeezed it. The Book Thief made my heart hurt, but it also gave me hope about humankind. I mean, if Death sees the good in mankind, then I should see it as well.
Rating: 5/5 for being completely amazing and teaching me some German swear words. Awesomesauce!
Note: I am aware that The Book Thief is a relatively new book, but I feel it's already on its way to becoming a classic...