The Book Thief

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

Post by Jenni.

Wow! I have enjoyed Markus Zusak before as a YA writer of light but significant reads, but this book is absolutely wonderful. The pinnacle of his career so far, this beautiful page turner is filled with the love of humanity whilst it tells the story of human cruelty and destructiveness. Now this is what I would call an ambitious book – to attempt to show the breadth of human character as this novel does, with its foibles and imperfections and compassion and love and kindness and forgiveness – well, I’ve read nothing which achieves like this novel on this scale since Shantaram, I think.

Perhaps the most admirable aspect of The Book Thief is its accessibility. Even my 15 year old daughter, who hasn’t, frankly, seen enough of life to understand its vulnerability and the preciousness of innocence and the strength of forgiveness, was moved to tears by the lives as they come to an end through the novel, in a way that she couldn’t fully understand. This book is highly recommended for YA, as it broaches difficult subjects with the artistry of subtlety and love, so is a marvellous introduction for discussion of the Holocaust and its effect on humanity. But, ultimately, it is an imperative read for adults, who have remembered some of the facts, but for whom these statistics have seemed to be enough to have a grasp on the Holocaust, and for whom the humanity of the cost is too easily forgotten, and so the deeper understandings and the lessons can become blunted.

This is definitely a book that must reside on my bookshelves to be shared and read again and again. The overarching emotions behind the novel are love and compassion, and that makes it an easy, enjoyable reminder of the things that we must value above all others as life batters our dreams.