Book Review : The Book Thief

 

The Book Thief is a historical novel written by Markus Zusak in 2005. Personally, The Book Thief is my favorite novel of all times. There is a way that Zusak writes that is both intimate yet distant at the same time. Perhaps it is because the narrator of the story is not your usual narrator, Death is the narrator of this story. The story is told through Death’s perspective on the life of Liesel, a young German girl during Nazi occupied Germany and World War II.

I read a lot of World War II-base novels but The Book Thief is my favorite out of all the ones I have read so far. It is not like most World War II novels, where most of them follow a Jewish family during this era. The Humbermann family is not Jewish, but they do not support the Nazi party either. It follows this family as they oppose the Nazi party while still trying to lay below the radar to not draw unwanted attention to themselves. Especially when they begin to harbor Max, the son of a soldier who fought alongside Papa in World War I, who is Jewish.

The novel portrays a various array of themes; love, education, and morality. The opening paragraphs Death discusses how morality is present in the lives of each character. As a World War II novel there is the constant undertone of death within everything, but the way Death speaks about death is not with fear and menace but with care. Death explains why he must take each character’s life and the reason behind their deaths. He even says once that death has a heart.

Education is just as prevalent as morality is in this novel. Liesel when she is adopted by the Humbermann family is taught how to read and write, something she never knew before. But she had always had a fascination with books, stealing a grave digger's handbook once despite not knowing how to read yet. Throughout the novel, book burnings become a symbolic event as well as Liesel rescuing and stealing books from the aftermath that didn’t escaped the flames.

Novels such as The Book Thief are important books to read to remind ourselves of the past. It reminds us about the violence and warfare that took place and destroyed so many lives and homes and to make sure something as extravagant and dangerous as World War II, including the Holocaust and Blitzkriegs, and the Atomic Bombs, never happen again.