***A SMALL TRUTH***
I am haunted by this book.
Sit still, children. Death has a story to tell. It is about the book thief, who was but a fourteen year-old skinny German girl living in Nazi Germany, whose name was Liesel Meminger. The book thief first conducted her felony when she was nine, the day her little brother was buried in the snow. She, along with her mother and little brother, travelled down to Munich where foster parents would soon take over the care of the children. Or as we shall put it after Liesel’s brother death; only one child. Soon Liesel would separate from her mother and proceed to Himmel Street in Molching, and became foster daughter of Hans and Rosa Hubermann. What an unlikely couple the Hubermanns were, since Hans was the accordion-playing, fatherly-loving figure that Liesel would learn to love dearly soon, and Rosa was a lady rich with words (in which I mean swearing) and she liked to give Liesel a good watschen (which is a slap to one’s bottom). Liesel then learned to read with her beloved foster father, and continued book thievery; from Nazi book-burnings, from the mayor’s wife library and so on. One of her treasured books was The Standover Man, a gift from an unexpected guest for the Hubermanns who came one night, Max Vandenburg. Max was a Jewish fist fighter whose father once fought alongside Hans on World War I. He sought help from the Hubermanns that they would hide him in their house. They paid him the service, and Max then became an important part of the Hubermann family. Max’s presence seemed to bind everyone closer and Liesel became his best friend when he did not even dare to imagine having one. The story then takes readers to witness the struggles the Hubermanns were having for hiding a Jew, and how the residents of Molching dealt with bomb-droppings on their homes, and how Liesel’s love for books helped them endure the sufferings because of war. Clearly, an end awaits all of them, Jew or not Jew. An end where lies an enormous possibility that Death is already waiting.
“They watched the Jews come down the road like a catalog of colors. That wasn’t how the book thief described them, but I can tell you that that’s exactly what they were, for many of them would die. They would each greet me like their last true friend, with bones like smoke and their souls trailing behind.”
As the main character, Liesel was nothing special. What made her special is the relationship that grew between her and other characters: with Hans Hubermann, with Max, with her ‘boyfriend’; the lemon-haired Rudy Steiner, with the mayor’s wife, and even with Rosa Hubermann, who we would later realize that she could love as much as any other characters in the book.
I love Markus Zusak’s writing style in this book tremendously, despite of some people who call it abnormal, especially for his style of personifying things or figurative language. For me, it’s original and captivating. Dark and gloomy as it is, the author kept the book true and honest, without any unnecessary sweetness. The author’s imagination in making Death the narrator is brilliant. And it made me think, could it be that Death is not as evil as we all think? He’s just doing his job, right?
This book is one of the very few books that can actually make me cry. I’m more of a visual person who cries more easily when seeing an emotional scene, rather than reading one. Yes, I cried at the end of the book. It wasn’t until I reached the last 100 pages that I decided that this book deserves my perfect rating. I think the author kept his best for last. Therefore, five stars.
“It’s probably fair to say that in all the years of Hitler’s reign, no person was able to serve the Führer as loyally as me. A human doesn’t have a heart like mine. The human heart is a line, whereas my own is a circle, and I have the endless ability to be in the right place at the right time. The consequence of this is that I’m always finding humans at their best and worst. I see their ugly and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both. Still, they have one thing I envy. Humans, if nothing else, have the good sense to die.”
“The Book Thief”, by Markus Zusak
552 pages Paperback, published 2007 by Knopf
My rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥