An emotional roller-coaster towards death

An emotional roller-coaster towards death

Book Review

Title: ‘The Book Thief’
Author: Markus Frank Zusak
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 584


‘The Book Thief’ – one can easily be attracted by the title – is an amazing masterpiece by Markus Zusak. It is a mash-up of several emotions and experiences, including love, suffering, punishment, conflict, and violence. Usually, after reading a book, people watch the movie based on it, but in my situation that was quite the opposite. I was motivated to read it after watching the movie The Book Thief, which piqued my interest. After I completed reading the book, I came to understand that the movie was really a summary of the entire book. Whatever we may watch, the pleasure that reading fosters has a different charm.
The best and most fascinating aspect of this book is that death itself tells the story. It is intriguing to see how the author incorporates emotions into the death-related dialogues. While reading it, I simply found myself in between the pages. This book by Markus Zusak exhibits his incredibly realistic writing style.
The book is based on one German girl, Liesel Meminger, who dwells with foster parents during the days of World War II. On the way of coming into the foster home, Liesel encounters the death of her brother in the train. In the funeral, she steals the book named ‘The gravedigger’s handbook’, from where a series of stealing books starts. Liesel steals that book even though she is unable to read. She moves in with Hans Hubermann, who is gentle, and Rosa Hubermann, who is angry yet kind. She meets her poor neighbours where she comes across Rudy Steiner who later becomes her best friend. Rudy always asks Liesel for a kiss but Liesel refuses every time. Her papa, Hans, starts to teach Liesel to read. Liesel and Papa make their routine to read a book at night. As days pass on, she gets obsessed with reading. I simply adore how she transforms from a shy and uneducated girl to a knowledgeable reader.
When everyone is content with their routine, Max, a distressed Jew, seeks for Huberman’s home as his lone haven. He is one of the Jews who is suffering at that time, when anti-Jewish sentiment is at its worst. Rosa and Hans look after him. One thing that Liesel and Max have in common is that they both enjoy reading and have traumatic pasts. I learnt about the book burning ceremonies, German Jew paranoia, and many other things about Hitler and his followers through this book. Liesel continues to steal books from the library of Ilsa Hermann. She and Max are getting along since Liesel does a reading for Max every time he gets ill. In a battle when casualties are a regular occurrence, raids are to be expected. Liesel goes to the basement every time there is a raid and keeps herself busy in reading. After stealing books from the Mayor’s library for a while, Liesel finally realizes what she’s been doing and notifies Ilsa Hermann in writing that she would no longer steal books. Liesel speculates that she might stop reading as a result of being punished for being a thief. What Ilsa Hermann does after that is amazing. She visits Liesel in her house and gives her a gift, a diary, while urging her to write in it in order to experience happiness rather than punish herself. Ilsa explains to Liesel that she brought the diary since she figured the Liesel might want to read. She asks Liesel, “Words have changed your life, so it is a time that you write your own words.” From that day onwards, Liesel starts to write her own book in the basement.
This book contains some amazing stories, like that of Max and Hans. However, one of the finest is the tale that Max included in the book that he leaves for Liesel. Max refers to Liesel as a “word shaker” in the account he tells about him, Liesel, and their conflict with Hitler. I simply got lost in the pages where Rudy, Hans, and Rosa were sound asleep. Rudy is running toward Liesel’s foster parents as she screams and runs from him, but no one is still alive. Rudy’s desire to kiss Liesel is still only a wish. Liesel gives Rudy a lip-to-lip kiss as he passes away, but it is too late. Entire story ends in such a sad manner. In a bulk of tears. Liesel finally meets Max.
The portion of death as the narrator is not visible in the book’s opening pages, but as I got to the middle of it, I saw the true part of death, and ever then, that part has shown brightly. Since death itself serves as the narrator, the book’s epilogue contains some beautiful comments from death. The book ends with these astounding words from Death, which I loved the most: “I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn’t already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race, that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant. All I was able to do was turn to Liesel Meminger and tell her the only truth I truly know. I said it to the book thief, and I say it now to you: a last note from your narrator: ‘I am haunted by humans’.”
I have read plenty of fiction novels, but this novel turned out to be the best of the lot. I was basically experiencing myself as a character in the book. This novel is so soul-stirring and heartbreaking. It kept me joyous throughout but when it finished, I could not stop crying.
Favourite quotes:
“The strange thing was that she was vaguely comforted by that thought, rather than distressed by it.”
“They are strange. Those wars. Full of blood and violence but also full of stories that are equally difficult to fathom.”
“Can a person steal happiness? Or is it just another internal and infernal human trick?”
I recommend everyone who has not read this amazing piece to read this book. It simply transports you to an emotional roller coaster. There isn’t any fiction that compares to this. Every page evokes a different emotion. For example, if one page makes you happy, another might make you sad. Similarly, if one page makes you amazed, another might make you feel heartbreaking. But yes, you cannot let yourself be calm after finishing the book.

[email protected]


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.