I went to a book club at my new library on Tuesday night. They've been meeting for over ten years! I hadn't quite finished the book but was able to participate in the discussion anyway. I finished the book Wednesday night, understanding even more of the conversation at the book club. I think it even helped me enjoy it more.
The book we read was The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I had picked this up a few months ago to read but coudn't get into it. Attending the new book club (and meeting people!) was my motivation to try again. I'm glad I did!
The story is narrated by Death. Death is neither good nor evil, it just is. Death normally doesn't pay attention to the living - trying to focus on the souls gathered and the colors they provide. The setting is Germany leading up to and including World War II. Thus, Death is quite busy. But Death has three encounters with Liesel Meminger, the Book Thief, during that time frame.
Liesel lives with her foster family. Her brother dies on the train during the trip to the foster family. At his funeral she picks up a book that falls from the grave digger's pocket. Death witnesses this theft. The thing is, Liesel can't read. Death continues her story of how Liesel learns to read, to love words, to love people, living a very hard life in Nazi Germany. Throw in a Jewish man hiding in the basement, the war, an accordian-playing foster father and it's quite a story.
Author Markus Zusak has written other books that are all categorized as young adult fiction. The Book Thief is also categorized young adult in the United States. While I think teens would definitely enjoy and learn from this story, I think the young adult designation may do the book a bit of a disservice. Some people just discount all young adult books in general - not a good choice, imo, but true nonetheless. And those folks are definitely going to miss out on a very good book by it being classified as young adult.
One warning I have for the book - the beginning is confusing. At least it was for me. I think that's why the first time I picked it up I didn't get very far. It's difficult at first to understand how Death talks, to know what it all means. I'm telling you to push through it. It will get better and you will get to read a unique book that will keep you thinking. And you will definitly enjoy it!
Rating: 4.5/5 stars