The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak
All right, so first up, I did not expect this. I knew that The Book Thief was famous, and I knew that it had to be famous for a reason, but before reading it I always thought it was rather overrated. Strange, I know, because the nearest I had ever come to it was looking at its cover in the bookshop or while browsing through Amazon. “You should read it,” My mom would comment while buying some other book. I, on the other hand, would whine that I was sure it would be boring and serious and that super famous things are always horrible (despite having zero clue what it even was). Then one day, I came across it in a bookshop, (last year) and I decided to give it a try. I read it, and I was glad I did, because the experience was……..unique. In a good way. Like, the book is narrated by Death. Death is a person in this book (hello grim reaper), but he is a normal person who loves colours and is sad because he can’t take a vacation. Like, hello, that’s adorable! Everyone hates Death and this was a really new point of view. Also, the writing style was great, so it captures you in the net of HAVING to finish the book to see what happens next. The MC, Liesel Meminger, was not ‘perfect’ like a basic MC and also, I loved the sort of foreshadowing in the prologue and in the beginning of chapters and parts, it just makes things way more interesting. While the setting is 1930’s and 1940’s, in the Second World War, it mainly focuses on the effect of the war on the life of normal Germans instead of Jews unlike most WW II books. While we know that Jews suffered greatly in the hands of Nazi Germany, lives of normal Germans were fraught with danger too, especially if they had anti-Nazi sentiments and aided the Jews. That said, there were certain Jewish characters too. But while the book definitely has parts of war, it was not overly focused on war or war effort. It had normal life escapades too. The story largely revolves around Liesel, but it also focuses on the lives of other people in her life too. From her best friend to her distant neighbour to the Jew hiding in the basement, everyone gets a part. I loved how it was like a huge puzzle with last piece fitting perfectly at the end. It is quite a bittersweet book that reminds us every story need not have a happy ending. It was interesting to see the character development and bits and pieces of people’s pasts. While some parts of it were amusing, some were serious, and made a perfect balance. You might be wondering, however, about the title of the book. Why The Book Thief? Does someone steal books? The answer would be yes; Liesel does steal books. Some were those banned by the government and others were normal books. I liked the fact how Liesel and her family did not blindly listen to Nazi propaganda but instead helped those in need. This book while being fictional has some elements of truth in it as it is based in an era of history that actually happened, so I guess that the genre would be ‘historical fiction’. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that it’s boring and would be like a history book, it’s extremely interesting. This was not my best read of 2021, but it was excellent. Any age can read this. Amazing!!!!