Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Book Thief

I first read and enjoyed this book by Marcus Zusak when it was published in 2005. With the film of the book being released in January I decided it was time to read the book again. The story begins in 1939 in Germany when Liesel and her brother, Werner, are being taken to the home of their foster parents, the Hubermanns, at Molching on the outskirts of Munich. Werner dies on the train leaving Liesel to face her new existence alone.

 At her brother's funeral Liesel finds a book in the snow and, although she cannot read, the book becomes her greatest possession. Hans Hubermann helps Liesel learn to read so that she can eventually read her new possession, The Grave Diggers Handbook. Gradually she acquires additional books and books and reading become a key part of Liesel's existence. The Book Thief is a story of the devastation of war on ordinary people. It is a story about friendship, love, understanding and trust. It is the story of a young girl growing up in a very uncertain environment. It is a story where the narrator is Death and throughout the book Death provides his viewpoint on the futility of war and provides observations on the behaviour of humans.

Books also determine, to an extent, the telling of the story as the main sections of the novel involve the title of a book recently acquired by Liesel. The Book Thief is a beautifully written story that deserves the acclaim it has received in Australia and overseas and I found the second reading of the book just as moving as the first time I read it.

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