This book is a re-read. As a result, this review may contain spoilers. Proceed at your own risk.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Linn Area Reads is a community and library partnership in the county where I live. This year, the selection committee picked The Book Thief by Markus Zusak which I read back in 2010. Part of the program includes discussion groups and a visit from the author. And since the date they announced that The Book Thief had been selected and Markus Zusak would be visiting Iowa, I immediately set out to re-read the book.
I did enjoy my second read through of The Book Thief, but I wasn’t as enamored with it as I was 6 years ago. I have grown as a reader and have encounter other World War II novels and that have struck a stronger chord with me in the intervening years.
When I first read the book I was intrigued by Death being the narrator. It provided a point a view that I had not encountered before. And it revealed that everyone, including Death, is affected by War. Death was personified as a being with thoughts and feelings. On this second read through, I felt disconnected from the story. This third-person observation of the events didn’t touch me as deeply as it did the first time around although I did discover some things I missed on my first read through.
Things I Discovered about The Book Thief
- The colors black, red and white repeat themselves over and over again—the colors of the Nazi flag. The colors that define good and bad (white & black). The color that defines passion and love (red). Grey shows up again and again as well. It is a reminder that the world isn’t all black and white.
- Liesel loves her adopted father, Hans. Never is this more clear than in the chapter Champagne and Accordions. I wanted to hug this chapter. I totally missed their love for each other the first time around and this particular chapter drove it home and made me tear up and miss my own father.
- The shadow of World War I plays a big part in this story. It’s the reason Hans feels obligated to help Max. It’s the reason Germany was swept up in Hitler’s rhetoric. It’s the reason the Mayor’s wife is so sad and broken. WWI could almost be considered another character in the story.
- Music plays an important role in the story almost as important as books. That accordian survived 2 wars. Hans loved to play it. Remember Rosa with the accordion when Hans was drafted? Liesel, at the end of the story, is referred to as “the one with the accordion.” Music, like books, bring people together and can save lives.
- Finally, this book is a reminder that WWII was not just about the Nazi’s plan to eliminate those races they considered inferior. It was about the subjugation of whole countries and its citizens. Everyone suffered. Even Death.
The Book Thief is a compelling read and certainly warrants a re-read. I’m glad I took the time to freshen my memory and take part in the discussion groups offered by the Linn Area Reads program. It certainly helped me examine aspects of the book I hadn’t considered before and helped me connect with the story on a different level.
The Quick Book Review
The Book ThiefAuthor: Markus Zusak
Published on: September 18, 2007
Genres: historical fiction, young adult
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My Rating: Thumbs Up