The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book ThiefBig disclaimer here. It took me more than one day to read The Book Thief. It’s hefty. It’s structurally different from anything I’ve ever read. So I had to savor and ponder every chapter heading and description with questions such as what did the author want here and why this particular thought now. So not a quick and breezy reading experience, other days I could down several thin books at a sitting. Not now.

I’m in several writer’s groups and people in each one were overwhelmed by this masterpiece and for different reasons.

Personally, some of the topics unveiled are too dark for my taste, but I can say the same of much of that time period and place. War, genocide and people living their everyday lives surrounding it – all seen through the eyes of the narrator death – are topics I normally sweep past as quickly as I can with a prayer for those who’ve suffered. Yet this book makes us linger and see the common everyday. It accepts the horror as easily as the beauty, all diverse colors on the same palette.

I suggest this book joins your stack TBR. It’s a homage to books and the human condition. It’s highly stylized and includes hand drawn sketches of one of the characters and dictionary definitions of words so that we can understand this narrator’s meaning and his profound reverence for choosing the precise, most fitting word.

Here is a world of incomprehensible cruelty and kindness in the most unexpected places.  Markus Zusak used his literary talent and tools to make it a book that is heartbreaking about a girl who experiences books as able to feed her soul. No psychic ability needed here to see this novel becoming a classic – discussed and devoured for years.

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