I’m almost a decade behind in reading this novel and now that I have finished it I keep asking myself why I didn’t pick it up earlier. Originally, I had no intention of reading The Book Thief— I was thinking more along the lines of a chilling mystery or some kind of psychological twister. My sister-in-law (to be) is actually the one who changed my mind. She is currently away at college and asked for her original, rain-damaged, spine-torn copy of the novel (she has 2) to be shipped to her as soon as humanly possible, so I became curious. What was it about this book that enraptured her? I borrowed her second copy last Friday and finished it in a week. I don’t think I’ve devoured a novel that fast in a very long time.
There are two things that made this book stand out for me: the structure and the narration. Not many books are told from the point of view of Death, and, yes, I do mean Death with a capital D. While other World War II novels have given us unique perspectives, this is the first novel I have read that has looked upon the event from another plane of existence. Readers would be told chapters ahead of time that a particular character would die. I would read on and hope that somehow it would not come to pass, but Death would never let me forget that it was coming with subtle remarks and reflections.
The structure of the novel itself pulls the reader through, with excerpts from books within the book, drawings, side notes from Death, and random tidbits of information. They’re just little unnecessary snippets of information that paint a larger canvas for the reader to explore, see, and touch. It’s brilliant. The book is also broken up into sections, which are then divided into chapters. Before you know it you’ve completed an entire section and are hungry to learn what awaits in “The Jesse Owens Incident” or “The Floating Book.” One chapter down- on to the next!
Overall Review: If you haven’t read it, you should do so. It’s excellent.
There is one moment I have to talk about, and if you haven’t read the book you may not want to continue on, which is why I made sure to put the Spoilers heading above this section. The first and last kiss between Liesel and Rudy. The moment where a young woman, who has just lost everything, kisses the body of her freshly dead best friend. My heart broke. I think I started tearing up there and it just didn’t stop until the end of the novel. However, I couldn’t stop thinking, who would Liesel kiss the rest of her life? She marries, she has children and grandchildren. She greets Death at a ripe old age, but her husband is never identified. Personally, I believe she married Max. Yes, I know there’s an age gap, but a difference in age wasn’t as uncommon and I feel like he is the only one left who would truly understand her. Thoughts?
And now, the ultimate question, what book would you steal?
Look out for new reviews and check out the rest of the 2014 Bookshelf!