Friday, February 13, 2009

The Book Thief

I just finished reading The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak, last night. I had heard nothing but good things about this book. It's actually a "Young Adult" book, but that didn't bother me...I've read quite a few of those in the last few years. However, I have to admit...I really didn't know much else about the book until I got it from the library.

The narrator of the story is death. Yep, death. The "book thief" is a young girl named Leisel, and Death tells her story as she grows up in Nazi Germany. Unlike most books I've read (or movies I've seen) about Nazi Germany during WWII, this book isn't centered around Jews or concentration camps (although both are mentioned and are important in the plot). Instead, it focuses on the lives of innocent German citizens doing what they can simply to survive. As the quote from the book jacket says, "It's just a small story, really, about, among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist fighter, and quite a lot of thievery...."

I really enjoyed the author's writing style, and I thought that Death's persona was great...not so much the scary "grim reaper," but rather a compassionate lover of beauty. As an English teacher, I also greatly appreciated the focus on the beauty and importance of words throughout the story.

Although I know you can't always go by awards to find a good book (for example, I really didn't like The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and it won the Pulitzer last year), The Book Thief has won quite a few awards. To name just a few, it was the winner of the ALA Best Books for Young Adults (2007), the Michael L. Prinz Honor Book (2007), and the School Library Journal Best Book of the Year (2006).

Total number of books read in 2009: 6
Total number of pages read in 2009: 3384

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