The Book Thief (Spoilers-ish Ahead!)

“The consequence of this is that I’m always finding humans at their best and worst. I see their ugly and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both.” -Death

This is great, just another book to tear my heart out and leave me in my bed at 2 A.M. wiping my tears. In fact, it’s been almost a week and I’m still in mourning for the characters.

In order for one to understand the rest of this post, I will be giving a short (somewhat) summary. Liesel, a young German girl, is adopted by Rosa and Hans Hubermann during the period of Hitler’s reign over Germany. She befriends a young boy named Rudy Steiner, Max Vandenburg, a Jew trying to survive, and Death, who is the narrator. Liesel loves books, so much so, that she began stealing them. She bonds with Rudy, who always wanted a kiss from her, Max who wants to go outside and live his life, and Hans, who treats her like a daughter and stays with her through her nightmares. As time passes and Liesel grows older, things began to change. Rudy is offered a chance to go to a school under Hitler, Max is forced to leave his safe spot in the basement, and Hans is sent to work in the army. In the end, everyone except for Liesel, who was in the basement writing, is killed by a bomb that hits their little town. Years later, after she has lived her life, Death comes to her with her book and she reflects back to the time of when she was young, and she dies with her memories.

First of all, I would just like to say this book was one of the best I’ve read this year, being on par with The Catcher in the Rye. I’ve been meaning to read the book for awhile, but I guess with school, art, and friends I haven’t been able to handle anymore. But now that I’ve finished it, I don’t feel any regrets. In fact, the only feeling I have right now is heartbreak.

Why did I like this book so much?

The narrator was Death. Death has his humane side, but he also provides the somewhat omniscient point of view with dry humor. He’s dark, sarcastic, but also very, very knowledgable on the actions of humans. He admires Liesel for her strength and her bravery. Also, because he’s Death, he shows us how ugly and at the same time, beautiful humanity can be during their worst moments. Personally, I thought the author’s decision to make Death the narrator really helped the readers imagine many different aspects of people suffering during World War II.

“Please, trust me, I most definitely can be cheerful. I can be amiable. Agreeable. Affable. And that’s only the A’s. Just don’t ask me to be nice. Nice has nothing to do with me.” -Death

Another one of my favorite reasons I loved this book would be the character dynamics and relationships. I am in love with Rudy Steiner, also known as Liesel’s neighbor and best friend. A boy who painted himself black all over in order to imitate his favorite athlete, a boy who went into below freezing water to retrieve the book that belonged to the girl he loved, a boy who died without the kiss he always wanted and absolutely deserved.  He did not deserve to die the way he did, so young with so much potential.

“How about a kiss, Saumensch?”

He stood waist-deep in the water for a few moments longer before climbing out and handing her the book. His pants clung to him, and he did not stop walking. In truth, I think he was afraid. Rudy Steiner was scared of the book thief’s kiss. He must have longed for it so much. He must have loved her so incredibly hard. So hard that he would never ask for her lips again and would go to his grave without them.”

So, short story short, I felt that this book showed me many sides of different people and also the sadness and pain of death. I feel that after reading this book. I have been able to understand people and their thoughts more, yet at the same time I also feel that they have also become more confusing. I love this book and I may read it again sometime in the future, after I read some other books with lighter, happier themes.

“I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race – that rarely do I ever simply estimate it.” -Death

-Ashley

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