Sunday, March 16, 2014

Book Review:: The Book Thief


I've been working my way through a list of books that I found on pinterest that were advertised as "books you can't put down."  Well, The Book Thief was one such book, that's for sure.  I requested it at the library, and was amazed to see there was a waiting list.  When I finally got the blessed automated phone call informing me it was my turn, I realized for the first time that a film based on the book was recently released.  Hence the waiting list.

Once home, I dove right in, and was immediately intrigued and hooked.  The most surprising thing that caught my attention right away was the narrator of the book:  Death.  That's right, the story is told from the perspective of the Grim Reaper, but in an unexpectedly endearing way.  What makes that first-person account much more significant in this particular novel is that it is set during the second World War in Munich, Germany.  Imagine the atrocities that one who delivers souls to their eternities would've witness during that time and place.

When I was nearing the end of this book, I was chomping at the bit to recommend it to everyone by virtue of a beaming book review, but I have been thinking for several days of the best way to describe this book.  I could tell you the basic story line, but that isn't what makes this book so compelling.  It's just a story about a girl growing up in war-ravaged Germany.  No major plot twists and turns.  No crazy cliffhangers at the end of chapters.  Pretty even speed throughout.  So how do you review that while still expressing the importance of reading this novel?  After three days, it came to me.

The Book Thief may not be climactic, but what it lacks in suspense, it makes up for with two major themes:  the resilience of humanity, and the power of words.  Throughout its pages, you see time and time again how we humans are able to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and continue moving forward.  You see the many faces of love and how it is expressed differently.  You see the bitterness and evil of hatred and how ruthless and prejudiced it can be.  You see how mere words can unite a nation.  How they can convince people to do unspeakable things by gradually lowering walls and boundaries.  How they can strike such a deep fear into people that turning a blind eye is preferable to standing against a dangerous trend.  And you see how words provide us with a safe place, an escape from the inescapable.  They give us a voice, even if we're the only one who hears our own.  They reveal our true hearts and feelings and minds.

Now that I've read the book, I think I'll rent the movie.  I'm one of those who always prefers the book, but I am excited to see this one nonetheless.  I highly recommend the book...even if you've seen the movie...simply for the sweetness of the story that is told.  If you need a little further convincing, it was a very quick read, too!

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