The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
November 19, 2009 § 8 Comments
I guess humans like to watch a little destruction. Sandcastles, house of cards, that’s where they begin. Their great skill is their capacity to escalate.
Written with Death as the narrative, this book is altogether enchanting, gripping, and heart-warming, all rolled into one. Never before have a I read a book like this, where sorrow and happiness come hand in hand, where the ending is revealed without taking away any of its magic, where loss is so heart-wrenching and sorrow so strong yet hope and love is strewn around in abundancy.
Such is the feeling I got from reading The Book Thief.
Set in Nazi Germany, Death tells us a story about a little girl who caught Its attention. Death tells us the story of Liesel’s life, and gives us short glimpses into the lives of the people important to Liesel. Death tells us about It’s horrid job of collecting souls, of how It carries young childrens’ souls in Its arms, of how It tries to warm the shivering souls that float up from gas chambers, of how It sees colours in humans, colours that we don’t see.
Death tells us:
If you feel like it, come with me. I will tell you a story.
I will show you something.
Liesel is a book thief. That much we can gather from the title. But in stealing books, Liesel also discovers the magic and strength of words. She discovers what words can do. Death shows us, through Liesel’s story, how words have both the power the heal, and the power to destroy. Words are double-edged swords, wield them wrongly, and you end up getting cut up yourself. Spend them wisely, and the edge of the sword might just slice through air.
This, is a story about love.
A love between a boy and a girl; a love so deep and strong, they both didn’t know it.
A love for words; a love so passionate that thievery is completely warranted for.
A love between father and daughter; though not of own flesh and blood, but a bond that runs thicker than blood.
A love for humanity; a love so pure and true that it transcends all boundaries humans could ever erect.
A love for music, for the little joys and pleasures in life, for the precious gems that come when least expected.
A love for sudden rainbows in the skies, for buckets of snow and mud, for sun rays peeking through long slender clouds.
This, is a story about life.
“Don’t punish yourself,” she heard her say again, but there would be punishing and pain, and there would be happiness too. That was writing.
That was The Book Thief.