The Book Thief

When all the votes were coming in on the poll as to what book I should read next, The Book Thief was in a clear lead.

So, I started it. And finished it tonight.

I’m not thinking it’s a book you want to read if you’re the least little bit discouraged. Or, if you have abandonment issues. Or, if you went to Amsterdam when you were eight years old and walked through Anne Frank’s house behind the bookcase, and it changed your life forever.

How can you say you don’t like a book which so poignantly depicts the effects of war? You can’t. This book is full of the most vivid imagery I’ve read in a long time. Narrated by Death, and isn’t he the wise one, we are told the story of Liesel.

Dear Liesel, torn from her mother, her brother dying on the train to their foster parents, a new foster mother whose apparent harshness can only be offset by her foster father’s gentleness.

He was my favorite character. Anyone who stays up through all hours of the night with an adopted daughter to comfort her, and teaches her to read, is a hero in my book.

I can’t comment on much more of this book partly because of the tears still standing in my eyes, partly because of the tragedy of loss, partly because I call my father “Papa” too, and the thought of Death visiting our family is unimaginable in the depths of the grief I would feel. Rest assured, this book will touch every emotion you’ve ever felt, and it might even cause you to ask, as I did, “Just how much pain is a person able to withstand?”

And yet, like Liesel, we are not left without hope in the middle of our sorrow.

(The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak, was a finalist in 2007 for the Michael L. Printz Award, an annual award in the U.S. for a book that exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature. If you would like my hardcover copy leave a comment indicating you would, and I will pull a winner a week from today.)