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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Book Review - The Book Thief

If you're interested in historical fiction told with the most beautifully descriptive words, you will certainly enjoy this book.

It's the story of a nine year old girl named Liesel Memminger who is brought by her mother, along with her younger brother, to a foster home in Germany in the '30s. Unfortunately, during the train ride, her brother dies. At the funeral of her brother, our book thief finds her first book, The Gravedigger's Handbook. Even though she cannot read, she keeps this book.

After the funeral, she's taken to the home of Hans and Rosa Hubermann, her foster parents. Rosa Hubermann is described as having a squat shape which made her look like a small wardrobe with a coat thrown over it. Rosa's face was like creased up cardboard and annoyed. Her husband was very tall, walked straight and smoked cigarettes which he rolled himself. Hans also played the accordion.

Rosa was an impatient woman given to swearing. Hans was the opposite. Every night Liesel would have a nightmare about her brother's death. Every night, Hans would come into her room and just sit there, giving assurance to Liesel that she was not alone. In this family, Rosa was the disciplinarian, Hans the quiet, gentle man.

When Hans discovered the book that Leisel had stolen, instead of chastising her, he began to teach her to read. At one time, Hans and Rosa hid a Jew, Max Vandenberg, from the Nazis. Max' father and Hans had been friends during World War 1.

This book covers Leisel's adventures in school, her friends, her reading, the books she has stolen. It tells the story of Germany in the '30s and '40s. It talks about the poverty and starvation the people endured, their survival during the bombing.

This is a story of people. We see the other side of the war, the generosity of the people.

What I enjoyed about this stoey is the wonderful use of words. Max Vandenberg is said to have rustling hair and cold slippery fingers. Outside a mountain of cold November air was waiting at the front door each time Leisel left the house. Drizzle came own in spades. Dead leaves were slumped on the road. Can't you just feel the cold and see the rain and leaves?

Can you see the results of a bombing and plane crash? The limbs of trees were scattered in the dark. There were twigs and needles littered around the plane like fire fuel. To their left, three gashes were burned into the earth. Describing the pilot, the narrator says the eyes were like coffee stains and gashes were ruled across his cheeks and chin.

Oh, this story has a narrator and is told from his viewpoint. The narrator is Death.

If you want a story that will keep your interest and is told in a way that brings you into the lives of Hans, Rosa, Leisel and their friends, read this book. I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

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