The Book Thief: a book review


This is yet another book where I was drawn in by the movie trailer. And me being a “scaredy cat”, chose the safeness of book pages to plough through this story of war. Of course, it helped that this book is on my #penguinspo list.

Written by Markus Zusak, The Book Thief tells the story of Liesel, a girl who drew strength from books to deal with life and death in Nazi Germany.

I liked that each chapter was short – excellent for a commute that takes 30 minutes tops. I liked that Zusak gave a relatively “European” treatment, taking us through the boring bits, the everyday, just to build up th story. (The “American” way in contrast goes wham bam slam, and I didn’t watch the movie, suspecting it’ll pander to those tendencies of the audience.) But that also made it somewhat of a never-ending story.

I liked that Zusak showed it’s not just the Jews who suffered. The Communists did too, so did anyone who seemed the least bit unsympathetic to the fuhrer’s cause. It made me read more of history, and get a better understanding of the various political thoughts then.

I liked the generous sprinklings of German through all 300+ pages. The two new words I’m adding to my word bank: saukerl and saumensch. These are also the only two words I can remember. Repetition has its benefit.

What I didn’t quite like was the ending. It seemed as though Zusak needed to wrap the story up, or ran out of material. I also didn’t like how some characters like Hans Hubermann were so central, but seemed too one dimensional. All I remember is he plays the accordian, saves Jews, and is your everyday nice guy. Rosa Hubermann in contrast had three: sweet young thing, stern mama with a soft heart, sentimental woman with a sharp tongue.

I recommend this book. It’s young adult fiction, and maybe too easy for some, but I like how the simple things can flesh out the complex. Thanks Penguin Inspiration for the pick!

Mimosa’s rating: 4/5


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