Saturday, April 3, 2010
The Book Thief
The Beautiful Ms. Bonnie feels honored to review "The Book Thief," by Markus Zusak, a book deserving a 5 star rating, if ever there was one.
It may seem strange to have a book narrated by Death, but then again,you're reading a review of a book by a 15 1/2 year old yellow lab, so why not a book narrated by Death.
Although this sounds grim,"Death" transports the souls of the newly dead with a great deal of compassion and sensitivity, although it is unclear whether the dead are aware of this care.
"The Book Thief" is set in Nazi Germany, and is witness to the life of a girl who steals books. You'll fall in love with the characters, will feel joy in temporarily "knowing" them, but you'll also have to brace yourself for the nightmares of this book.
One passage in the book raises the question of guilt, of how to feel toward the German people. On the one hand, there is sympathy for those caught in the web of war, the Germans. . . . and then juxtaposed, side-by-side, is the gut-wrenching reality of Jews who had even less choice in the wretched massacre called the holocaust.
The author beautifully crafts words, at times making them the subject of the book, at times, using them to animate objects, sky, color, in a way that leads you to feel beauty in even the most despairing of human situations. At other times, the author beautifully teases and foreshadows with words: "Two telling moments, however, were on their way."
Of course a book is of words, but there's a profound undercurrent in this book about words: Words and silence helped create the holocaust; words helped stand against it. In one agonizing scene, Jews are marched through a street near Munich, and the author, or Death, says: "The suffering faces of depleted men and women reached across to them, pleading not so much for help--they were beyond that--but for an explanation." . . .for words.
If you haven't read this book yet, if you EVER intend to read another book, let it be this one.
But after you read it, you may need to rest from words for awhile.