‘BOOK THIEF’ by Markus Zusak

2 mins read
Book Thief

When someone gifted this book to my 10-year-old, I was wondering whether this is the right book for a child of her age. For the word ‘Thief’ raised a doubt in me. My daughter completed it as soon as she got it and was in complete sadness and waiting to share it with someone. She had to wait for another few months for me to complete the reading and discuss about her feelings. Thanks to the beautiful soul who gifted us this book.

The story of ‘Book Thief’ by ‘Markus Zusak’ is set in Nazi Germany during World War II. As the title suggests it’s the story of a book thief, a girl named ‘Liesel Meminger’. The story begins when her mother takes her and her brother to be adopted by a family in Germany. The brother’s death is the first time the book exposes us to Liesel’s grief. Every time she is desperate or loses someone, she is seen getting hold of a book that’s not hers. In her new home, she finds a Mama (Rosa Huberman) and a Papa (Hans Huberman). Her mama was always impatient and loud but the bread winner of the family. And her papa was the most kind-hearted person who she loved the most and the one who teaches her how to read.

It’s the journey of a resilient girl, from one who doesn’t know how to read, to a girl who writes her own story. Liesel’s ‘Papa’ reads for her every night when she is in grief and later making her read. She is taught to write down on the wall using paint and brushes as there is lack of books and pencils. At the end there is a girl who finds comfort in words. The words she read to herself, to Max, her Jewish soulmate hidden in the basement and to all her neighbors who hides in the basement at time of the bombings. Another two characters whom I can’t miss mentioning are ‘Rudy’ (Liesel’s best friend) and ‘Ilsa Hermann’ (The mayor’s wife). Both of whom were gentle to Liesel and loved her in one way or the other.

What makes the story unique is, the narrator here is death itself. In a time of World War II and Nazi Germany, it draws a mild picture of how Jews were forced to flee and how the people of Germany were forced to praise the Führer and take part in this torture. Hans Huberman being the one to raise voice against this in the most subtle way had to suffer a lot for that. Most of the people of Germany described in this book, where either victim of war, if not victims of hunger and death.

The book is an apt read for any one above 12 years. Its not for any inappropriate content but its for the serious story and the grief held in it. But there is history revealed through a story here. There is a movie based on the story, which I watched at the end of my reading. It was cut short of the book and I couldn’t find the beauty of my imagination there.

The irony of the story is, those whom we imagine to be caught by the narrator, lives and those whom we imagine to survive are the ones gone with the narrator. At the end, the girl ‘Liesel Meminger’ is going to stay with you for sure.

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