The Book Thief

I recently stole The Book Thief from my sister.

True story.

She’s probably not going to get it back.

Someone that I worked with a few years ago told me that I had to read it. That I would love it. That it would change my life.

When someone tells you that about a book, my immediate reaction is always to kind of dismiss it. I am totally comfortable making those kinds of recommendations to other people but horrible at taking the advice myself. My book club participation has definitely made me more open minded about reading recommendations.

It still took me a long time to get around to actually reading it.

It’s one of my new favourite books, despite the fact that I was basically hysterical by the time I finished it (and trying to sob quietly because I was sitting with my boyfriend and he always laughs at me when I cry at movies or books.)

Death narrates the tale of The Book Thief. Liesel Meninger is the daughter of a Communist that is left with foster parents in Bavaria following the death of her little brother on a train. She never sees her mother again but is soon comfortably ensconced in the world of Himmel Street. In the madness of Nazi Germany, Liesel learns to read and soon enough, words and stories and most of all books, come to mean everything to her (who can’t relate to that?) Unfortunately for Liesel and all of the people that she loves, the war and Death are coming ever closer.

I’m doing a horrible job explaining this book. I’m pretty sure I’m one of the last people on the planet to have read it anyway, so you probably already know that it is an incredible story. Liesel grows from this terrified, sulky little girl into a curious, defiant young woman, with incredibly strong convictions. And it’s honestly down to the power of books that she’s able to make it through one of the most heinous epochs in history. It’s not often that a story about Nazi Germany is told from the sympathetic perspective of the Germans, but this story is a very human one. Obviously there are those in the neighbourhood that are Nazis, like the woman that owns the candy shop, or the camp guards that parade Jews through the streets on their way to Dachau. Everyone of age is a participant in the Hitler Youth, although Liesel’s best friend Rudy does make life difficult for himself by constantly undermining his leader. The people in Himmel street are hard working and suffering from the decisions made for them by their leader. They are struggling financially and when the bombs start to fall from the sky and the men start leaving for the front, things become tough emotionally too.

I loved this book. So much. The end was devastatingly heart breaking but so perfect too. It was actually hard to read – you kind of knew something horrible was coming, Death had been foreshadowing it for pretty much the entire book. But I was still completely devastated, and kind of felt ill reading it. I was that invested.

The Book Thief is an incredible book. I loved it so much and there is no way that my sister is going to get it back.