Day 24: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The narrator is Death, a sympathetic character who is tired of the countless millennia of collecting souls. He tells the story of Liesel Meminger, focusing on for years in her life. At the age of nine, she is “adopted” by Rose and Hans Hubermann because Liesel’s father is imprisoned as a Communist and her mother is ill.
Leisel grows up on Himmel (Heaven) Street during World War II near Munich. She becomes fond of Papa, the silver-haired accordion play who teaches her how to read. Her foster family hides a Jew and her keeping the secret is necessary for everyone’s survival.
The street is populated by several vivid characters. One that stands out is Rudy, a blond-haired boy who becomes her best friend and constantly tries to get a kiss from her.
Liesel, often with Rudy in tow, becomes a book thief. She steals because so much has been stolen from her, her family specifically. Books become her solace.
The book is about the power of language, with emphasis placed on how Hitler was nothing without words. The book is also about the struggles of ordinary Germans living under the Nazi regime. The common folk are humanized and shown to possess dignity. Some feign allegiance to the regime; others make small but nonetheless meaningful acts of defiance.
This book is a worthy addition to the canon of Holocaust literature.