Wednesday 30 September 2009

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Apparently "The Book Thief" is classed as a young adult, even a children's book, in the USA, but it wasn't written as such and certainly I've thoroughly enjoyed it a very long way away from young adult years..

The story is set in wartime Germany and gives an insight into ordinary people's lives.  It is narrated by Death, which may sound morbid, but this Death is afraid of humans and wonders how they can be capable of so many glorious things as well as such ugliness.  And that really is one of the main themes of the book, along with death of course, the Second World War, and the conflict of ordinary people with the society they live in.

It's the story of Liesel, who has to be fostered when her own parents are taken away to a concentration camp for being Communists.  Her brother dies before they reach their foster parents and she steals a book, a grave digger's manual, even though at that time she couldn't read.  It's the story of the books that pass through her hands, and the story of how she survives the events of the war.

There isn't, in truth, a great sense of place, but there most certainly is an all-enveloping feeling of being immersed in the time.  This is such an important part of Germany's history, I would happily recommend the book to anyone planning to visit Germany.