Book Recommendation : The Book Thief

Book Recommendation : The Book Thief

Shuruq Daas, Staff Writer

Over break, I took it upon myself to read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Before I began reading it, I had a plethora of friends and teachers inform me this book is heart-wrenching and depressing. The outcome would be tears, my friends said. Sitting down in my room, I flipped the page and began the 500 pages of a depressing, yet inspiring journey.

What’s interesting about this book is that it tells the story of World War II through the eyes of regular German people. Not all German people supported Adolf Hitler’s agenda against the Jewish people. In that time, all Germans were to follow all rules bestowed upon them by Hitler. To have some of those Germans oppose his rules shows that there are two sides to every story.

The book revolves around the protagonist Liesel Meminger, and is told by a narrator unlike any other. This story is told by death. It was World War II, and conditions were deteriorating for Liesel. Her mother hopped on the train with Liesel and her brother to ship them off to a foster family where living conditions are better for her children. Before reaching the home of the their new parents, Liesel’s younger brother dies on the journey. That horrid moment sparks Liesel’s first act of stealing books.

After reaching  the household of her new parents, the Hubermann’s, Liesel feels the severe pain of abandonment, not knowing that her mother’s choice will affect her life in several ways. Starting out in the house, things were awkward and uncomfortable, then gradually progressed into the most genuine of relationships. Befriending her next door neighbor, Rudy Steiner, these inseparable duo paved the way to what a true friendship is like.

This relationship between Liesel and Rudy was like no other. It started out as both of them degrading  and being competitive against each other. Liesel and Rudy became the Bonnie and Clyde to each other and were always there for each other.  This strong bond led Rudy to helplessly fall in love with Liesel and fight for justice side by side; however, Rudy never would hear the words ”I love you” spill out of Liesel’s lips.

Also, this friendship with Rudy ignited an impetus for Liesel to steal more books, hence the name ”The Book Thief.”  Although stealing is never acceptable, in Liesel’s case, her stealing of books is solace for her and her neighbors during the bomb raids, and the key to her strength.

As she reads to ease the worried and anxious people, one thought would eat her brain alive the more she read. While sitting with her German neighbors under protection, in Liesel’s house, all the way down in her cold and empty basement was Max Vandenburg, a Jew. And during that time in Germany, speaking of a Jew would result in punishment, but what would be the consequence for hiding one in your basement?

Throughout the book, the constant thoughts of  ”what will happen” and ”will the Hubermann’s get caught”  will leave readers in no state to put the book down. Other factors also come into play that connect to Liesel… Read this emotional book to find what just happens on 33 Himmel Street.