Tuesday, 27 December 2011

The Book Thief - Markus Zusak (2006)

I bought this when I was stuck at the mall and needed something to do. The title was familiar and it was cheap. It's written by an Australian, despite the Germany/WW2 premise. It won twelve awards and was listed on the New York Times bestseller list for a good while.

It was really hard to stop reading this, I love how Death narrates the story and chooses a little girl as one of his favourite stories to tell. He talks about how much he hates his job and longs for a holiday, but there is no one to replace him. He uses distractions as holidays, and takes note of the colour of the sky when he takes people. Liesel is used as one such distraction. One who loses much, but is still hungry for life.

Liesel is sent away to live with foster parents, but her brother dies on the train trip. She and her mother leave him beside the train tracks to be buried, where Liesel steals her first book - The Gravediggers Handbook - despite being unable to read.
She is haunted with nightmares of her mother abandoning her and her brother dying. Her foster father Hans stays up with her and teaches her how to read. Her father struggles with his painting business. He lost clients when he painted over slurs on Jewish homes and is known as a Jew-lover. Her mother takes in washing to make ends meet. At a book burning Liesel salvages another book, but realises the mayor's wife - who she takes in washing for- saw her steal it. The next time she collects the washing the mayor's wife allows her to read in her library.

In WW1 Hans life was saved by another man and he promised his family he would help them anytime they needed. But that man was Jewish, and his son Max asks of him to keep him hidden in their basement.
During the air raids, Max goes up to see light. When times get tough, the washing stops, Liesel steals books from the mayor's wife in revenge. Hans is whipped on the street for giving bread to a Jew and Max leaves in fear of discovery. Hans is conscripted and given the job of taking bodies of the street. He returns home safe and the air raids continue. Liesel is writing the story of her life into a book down in the basement. One day, the sirens for the air raid do not go off soon enough and everyone on the street is killed. Liesel is the only one left alive

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