Read the story of a 10-year old girl, Liesel Meminger set in Nazi Germany. About her mother handing her over to foster parents. About her difficulty in adjusting to her new home. Get to know her tough foster-mother Rosa Hubermann , her kind foster-father Hans Hubermann and her bedwetting nightmares followed by reading sessions.
Take the focus off Nazi sufferings and turn it to the little girl’s love for words and some thievery of books among other things. Warm up to her childhood love, Rudy Steiner. The period setting is incomplete without a Jew in the picture and so learn about Max Vandenburg and his life in hiding. Some war related incidents and lots of loss. Cap it all with the narration by death, yes, Death itself.
The Book Thief, by Australian author Markus Zusak is a page-turner that won several awards including the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize.
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- What seems to be another story of loss during the Nazi Germany (Millions lost their loved ones) is ornamented and embellished by the presentation – Personification of death and narration by death is a novel idea.
- Actual presentation – the layout of the text in the book with some beautiful asides that serve as teasers.
- What could have been another tear-jerker is transformed to a heart-warming story by highlighting the positives and the cheer in her life during her childhood.
- Focussing primarily on Liesel’s childhood, her love for reading and pushing her life story as a backdrop gives us a glimpse of life in the circumstances, but life apart from the circumstances of the period.
- Brilliant story-telling strategy – teaser, focus change and repeat.
- The character Rudy Steiner. Absolutely lovable.
- The foster-father Hans Hubermann character seems to be the epitome of patience. How I wish I could be such an infinitely patient parent!
- The word-shaker story inside the story that emphasizes on the power of words.
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- Michael Holtzapfel’s suicide made me wonder about the soldiers and their mental agony during and after a war. I am reminded of another book that I’m reading – Redeployment by Phil Klay.
Must-read, preferably without interruptions.