Friday, May 14, 2010
Book Review: The Book Thief
There are times when a book's title pops up so often, that you know that it will be a really good read. I cannot rave about Markus Zusak's The Book Thief enough. It will certainly be on my list of favorite books for 2010 and I am already planning to read the book again in 2011.
Next time, I want to read the book for myself. This time around, I listened to the audio version. It was great to hear it read and the narrator did a fantastic job, but there were so many times when I wanted to stop and ruminate on a passage. Plus, I was frustrated with how long it took me to complete this book because I don't get near enough time to listen to audio books these days. (Also, due to the frequent cursing in German, with English explanations, I couldn't ever listen to it when the little boys were with me - although I did listen when Bryce was in the car.) Still, I don't regret having listened to it first, because when I read the book on my own, I know I will still hear the rich, lyrical voice of the narrator and will follow his pronunciations of the names of places and people.
Liesel Meminger is the book thief. Why does she feel a compulsion to steal books? First, because she loves words and the difference they can make. Second, because in her short nine years, she's already lost her father, mother and brother. Her first theft, a book about grave digging, fell out of the apprentice's pocket and Liesel grabbed it in an urge to hang on to something from the day of her brother's funeral.
As this book, narrated by none other than the weary character of Death, follows Liesel's life, death is everywhere, but so is life and love. I was swept away by the relationships Liesel establishes with her neighbor and best friend, Rudy, the mayor's wife, her foster father and Max Vandenburg. They will forever people the landscape of my mind.
What struck me most profoundly was the faithful rendition of human existence, so full of sorrow, pain and loss, and yet, simultaneously, triumphant! I wish I had the time and energy to give this book a better written review. Alas, I will settle for something another reviewer mentioned on the Amazon site: "If you only read one book in 2010, make it this one!" It will be well worth your time and you will think about this story long after you have put the book down.
Follow this link for a truly well-written review by Janet Maslin in the New York Times. If you follow the Amazon link above, you can also hear the author discuss his writing of the book. Hands down, this has been my favorite book this year!