Friday, March 19, 2010

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

First, I have to warn you, this is going to be a very gushy blog. This book recently (okay, about half an hour ago) just surpassed my favorite book to become my new favorite book of all time. Reasons for which will be explained.

Second, if you haven’t read this book, stop reading this blog immediately and go get a copy of this book and READ IT NOW! I’ll wait…



Got your copy? Read it? Good.

It’s been a very long time since I’ve posted and I’m sorry for that. I allowed myself a little time off and I’m sorry that I milked it a little bit. It’s easy to fall into a pattern of not writing, but it’s no bueno! It’s easier to fall back into the pattern. While I took the time off from writing, I also stopped reading; bad choice.

When the time came for me to read again, I chose an old favorite, The Book Thief. I’ve read the book twice before and loved it. Now, as weird as this sounds, I was in the mood for a Holocaust book. Maybe it was because in the class I intern with at Fairfield Junior High, the 8th graders were learning about the Holocaust. But I think (and this will sound weird) it was destiny that I chose to read this book now.

This book is about a girl named Liesel Meminger. In 1939, her mother and brother are traveling with her to her new foster parent’s home. But her brother dies on the train ride there and in Nazi Germany, there is no time for stopping for long. They bury him and during the burial, Liesel picks up a book out of the snow, The Grave Digger’s Handbook. Thus begins a “love affair with books and words.” Through the book, Liesel clings to her books as she enters her new family, deals with her neighbor Rudy who is always looking for a kiss, and when her family chooses to hide a Jew in their basement. Oh, and did I mention that the narrator of this book is Death? Yeah, amazing. Kudos to Mr. Zusak, most brilliant idea ever.

This book if 550 pages and on each page is a line that burns into your memory. While I was reading this book, I had a conversation with my mom about the importance of the first lines of books. Those first few words have so much power of your perception of the rest of the book. Here are the first few lines of this book:

“First the colors. Then the humans. That’s usually how I see things. Or at least, how I try.”

In an interview about this book, Zusak says that he struggled with letting Death narrate the book because for a while, Death was too evil. But in this final edition, Death is tired. The Second World War is bearing down on him just as it is on the rest of the world.

In this book, Death explains how he sees the colors of the human soul. This is one of those books that cannot just be read once to fully appreciate it. Each time I read it, something new stuck out to me and this time it was the colors. Recently at my school, my theater class did a play called The Yellow Boat and color played a giant role in the show. So obviously, I was paying close attention to color in this story. It’s importance cannot be missed.

Zusak is a masterful writer. The description he uses in this book is haunting and illuminating, captivating and enthralling. It’s pretty much every word you can think of and then some; it’s perfect. He bathes you in metaphor and color and this isn’t an overbearing bath, this is a perfect temperature bath with the right amount of bubbles and the perfect amount of water. He sees things down to the best and last detail. If something is yellow, it isn’t plain yellow or even sunny yellow, it’s the color of lemons. It’s details like that that make this book stick in your mind.

“As the crowd arrived in full, things, of course, had changed. The horizon was beginning to charcoal. What was left of the blackness above was nothing now but a scribble, and disappearing fast.

The man, in comparison, was the color of bone. Skeleton-colored skin. A ruffled uniform. His eyes were cold and brown- like coffee stains- and the last scrawl from above formed what, to me, appeared an odd, yet familiar, shape. A signature.”


Take a second. Let that seep into your skin. His description is what makes this book so real, the characters so tangible. I know each and every character. I can see them perfectly and I love them dearly as if they were my own family.

Literally, I cannot even type about this book enough or fast enough or anything of the sort. I have too many thoughts about this book. And for now, I’m starting to cry again which is making typing unnecessarily hard. Just please trust me on this, DO NOT MISS THIS BOOK. I recommend this book above any other book I have ever read or will read. No book has ever touched me more or stayed with me longer.

Just reread this blog. It's super sporadic but that's about all I can calmly say about this book. Just read it.

Until next time, happy reading! Send me your book recommendations if you have them, I’d be happy to check them out and review them all! Leave any comments below! I’d love to hear them!

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