Death Has A Story To Tell

“The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak was first published in 2005 and takes place during the era of Adolph Hitler’s reign over Germany leading up to and through the Second World War.

Zusak has decided to have the personification of Death relate this tale of a young orphan who is taken in by foster parents after her younger brother dies on a train.  The main protagonist, Liesel Meminger, is illiterate but is just clever enough to recognize to recognize the power of words and starts to steal books that the Nazis are wanting to destroy.

Her life is further complicated and then enriched when her foster parents take in a Jewish fist-fighter needing refuge from the Nazis. It seems the father of the household, Hans Hubermann, has a debt to pay since the young man’s father saved his life during the First World War.

The story explores the lives of the residents of Germany during what would become one of those most turbulent times in world history.  These are the people who weren’t in the battlefields but faced their own horrors of being under such a dictatorship.

It’s not hard to see why this novel has such acclaim.  There are lots of engaging and complex themes interwoven throughout this piece.  Death often seems an effective and subtle narrator.  It’s a pretty clever road to choose to have Death tell the tale.

Zusak is definitely a talented writer who works hard to differentiate himself from his peers.  His style of prose is elegant and engaging enough to have me somewhat envious of his talent.

If one started a real in depth analysis of this work, I would find it hard to know where to stop or feel like every relevant aspect was covered.  I will just conclude by suggesting that my fellow bibliophiles not pass this one up,

I am now in a book club and need to catch up with the next selection as I get to know the works of Anthony Doerr with his anthology entitled “The Shell Collector”.


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