Young Adult Lit/Crit

May 4, 2008

Book Thief Steals My Heart

Filed under: THE BOOK THIEF — Mandy @ 12:32 pm

I finished The Book Thief last night at 6:22 am and no, I did not read through the night, but I woke up around 4 and was unable to get back to sleep. Only after finishing the book and crying for 15 minutes, was I able to fall back asleep. I really, really loved this book. I was reading Zusak’s comments at the end of the book and I could definitely relate to when he describes how he misses his characters. I read this book in a short amount of time, but nonetheless, I looked forward to returning to it and it was bittersweet to reach the end.


 It took me a while to figure out who the narrator was. My instinct’s told me it was Death, but I still resisted that idea for whatever reason. Zusak’s presents Death with a very interesting persona and whenever I think of death, I never imagine it has a personality. This was very clever. Many times throughout the story I didn’t fear or hate Death as I normally do when I think about dying, especially in the ways in which many characters died in this story. Rather, I pitied death, because he/she didn’t want to be taking innocent lives anymore than readers wanted to have to witness the devastating deaths in this story. Further, the last line of the book is especially powerful, as it reveals the empathetic side of death. I normally classify death as the haunter, not the haunted, so this last revelation made Death…almost human?…which is ironic, given the fact that many human during this time were inhumane…


 It’s a challenge to decide which relationships are the most important and powerful in this story, and therefore which ones should be discussed. Rudy and Leisel definitely had a friendship that will transcend death. But we also have to talk about the Hubermanns, who saved Leisel’s life, both literally and symbolically. And of course, there is Max. I think Leisel’s relationship with Max revealed the most about her character, as she was fearless, loving and compassionate in the midst of a cruel world, one that had been cruel to her in many ways. Yet she never focused on her own suffering, yet constantly tries to alleviate the pain of others, like Frau Holtzapfel and Isla Hermann, which makes her so admirable, especially given how young she is in this story.  

 There was so much tragedy in this story, yet so much joy at the same time, and I think this represent a universal truth about life. Like Leisel epitomizes, it is how we choose to deal with these events that unfold before us that is important. She is such a loveable character, and even more so for me because of her obsession with words. Throughout the good times and the bad, she always has her books. And when she no longer has her books, she still has her words.





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