REVIEW: 'The Book Thief' keeps readers wondering what's next
Published: Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 30, 2013 23:09
“It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still,” the synopsis on the back of the book reads.
“The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak, published in 2005, is as unique as they come. Narrated by Death, the story is told of one Liesel Meminger, a girl living in Nazi Germany. There’s a mystery regarding the subject of communism and Liesel’s mother, whom she was taken from and given to foster parents Hans and Rosa Hubermann.
The Hubermanns are poor, which is what you would expect in a country that sparked a world war. They are skin-and-bones, surviving on pea soup and living in a plain house on Himmel Street in the town of Molching. Hans was a painter by trade, though he has no work at all any more. Hans is one of the 10 percent of Germans not associated with the Nazi Party. As for the reason why, you’ll just have to read the book.
And Rosa? Oh, Rosa. She’s quite a colorful person. Though she may seem a tough and abusive woman, she is just a scared, good woman behind a tough shell. Though she may not show her affections, it is clear she loves Liesel more than anyone could possibly guess.
Liesel, an illiterate girl, stole her first book “The Gravedigger’s Handbook” from the snow following her brother’s funeral. Since then words have taken hold of her, leaving her and Hans Hubermann to stay up late at night to capture them. Liesel can’t stop wanting to read, even if it means stealing from the mayor’s library.
She’s stealing more than books now; she’s stealing food with Rudy Steiner, her one and only friend besides Max Vandenburg.
But who is Max? The short answer: a Jew.
Yes, the Hubermanns are hiding a Jew in their basement and he’s dying. He had a rough life as a Jew. Hans and Max’s father, Erik, were friends, soldiers and comrades during World War I. Now Max has come for the help that Hans offered years ago.
Trying to keep Max a secret takes a lot of work and Liesel, trying to write her mother and figure out what the word “communism” means, only adds worry to the Hubermanns. Meanwhile Death’s work is piling up. After all, there is a war going on.
What happens next? I don’t know. I haven’t gotten that far. I’m on page 336, but what I can tell you is that this is one story you want to read. Zusak is a brilliant author with all sorts of tricks up his sleeve. Though it may take a couple of chapters to get into the book, the intensity and mystery on every page is enough to keep you reading.