As many of you may already know, The Book Thief was the winner of last month’s poll. I have to admit, I wasn’t really looking forward to reading it. I had already started once sometime last year and put it aside. So you know, sorry it took me so long to get around to it this month.
Anyhoo, this is the story of a young girl named Liesel Meminger and the life of those around her in Germany during WW2. The story is narrated by Death, which I guess is one of the reasons this novel is so popular. Liesel is “the book thief”, and during a four-year period she steals several books. With the help of her foster father, Hans Hubermann, she learns to read and write and words become her life.
I liked this book more than I thought I would, though it’s hard for me to exactly pinpoint why. I liked the cast of characters: her foster parents are much more awesome people than I saw coming. Her friendship with Rudy is sweet, and the bond that she forms with Max, the Jewish man her family is hiding in their basement, is touching as well. I loved Liesel’s love affair with books. I really liked Death’s narration. Death actually comes off as a pretty cool guy – someone who has feelings and complex thoughts, though that’s rarely how Death is personified. My favorite quote of the book was from Death:
“It kills me sometimes, how people die.”
Oh the irony.
Overall however, I don’t think this book deserved all the hype it’s been getting. The writing took a long time to get used to, because it’s very choppy. It made it really easy to set the book down anywhere and I never felt particularly eager to pick it back up. The 550 pages did go by quickly, but more because I wanted to finish the book, not because the writing or the story was so captivating.
There’s probably one other tiny reason I didn’t fall in love with this book, and though I’m sure I’ll get hate-comments for it, I’m gonna say it: I’m sick of reading about the Holocaust. I learned about it practically every year in school, and so I avoid it as an adult. I don’t mean this in any disrespect towards those who died during it – it was truly a horrible, awful occurrence, and one that should never be repeated. However, it HAS been repeated. In Rwanda, for example. But you never hear about Rwanda (or any other genocide) in schools, it’s always about the Holocaust. So, I get kind of bored with WW2 stuff because you can only read so much of it before it starts to get repetitive. I avoid it whenever I can, and probably won’t get around to reading another Holocaust-themed book until sometime next year.
Luckily, this book didn’t feel too repetitive. I was happy that it focuses on German citizens, and was really happy that the family in the book has true compassion for the Jewish prisoners. It’s not a point-of-view I’ve come across often in WW2 books, so I’m really thankful for that. And I think that this will be one of the books that kids should read in middle school about the Holocaust, cause it shows that there were some people at the time that felt bad about what was happening, and tried to help in what little ways they could. If nothing else, the Hubermann family is definitely the perfect example of bravery, compassion, and hope.
Sarah Says: 3.5 to 4 stars ( I really can’t decide).