The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak
Historical Fiction, Young Adult Fiction | T | 5 stars
The book I read over the winter holidays was something that had been sitting on my shelf for a while, so I decided it was finally time to get around to it. The Book Thief takes the much-written about time during World War II and the Holocaust and writes from a different perspective -- that of Death, following the childhood of a young girl forced to live with a "loyal" German couple in Molching, Germany due to her mother's affiliation with the Communists.
Zusak cleverly uses Death's perspective of the world as shades of colors to give a unique illustration of each scene, and how the colors seem to fade into grays or sharp splashes of color when there is a sudden development. It's not overly graphic from Death's point of view, as he mostly describes Death as picking up and carrying the souls of the deceased to remain in his care. By using Death to peer into parts of little Liesel Meminger as she travels to Molching to live with Hans and Rosa Hubermann and then grows up as the War rages on, it changes how Nazi Germany is usually depicted in novels like these.
Liesel Meminger is a young girl caught in the middle of Nazi Germany and trying to navigate her youth while also being fed the propaganda of the Hitler Youth. Her character is bolstered by the stealing of her first book at her brother's burial, and from there on it gets very interesting, especially as she develops a strong bond with her foster father Hans. As Liesel ages, it becomes clearer to the reader that the Hubermann's aren't as sympathetic to the Nazi cause as they outwardly appear to their neighbors, and as the political situation deteriorates in Germany, they take more and more risks, and Liesel also does the same, albeit it in a different manner and for different purposes.
The lessons this book teaches are countless. This book illustrates the power of having the skills to read, to write, and to hold knowledge more than take in propaganda. Love is also much stronger than people like to think it is, and this is shown many times over throughout the novel.
Now, I know this has been made into a movie, but I haven't seen it yet. (If anyone has and has an opinion on whether or not I should watch it, please do so!) I highly recommend this book to anyone, even if they typically don't read historical fiction, because this book really made me think quite a lot about my own personal beliefs and how I learned of World War II and the Holocaust and what I can do to prevent something similar happening in the future and also understanding why that was allowed to happen. Go forth and read it!