The Book Thief

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The Book Thief

“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.

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist: books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids – as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.”

-Taken from Goodreads

I’ll start this review by saying that this was the second time I tried to read this book. The first time, it was a Portuguese translation, and I couldn’t read more than 3 pages, much to my sister’s consternation. Some year after this, I decided to try again. This time, I read it in English.

My sister loves this book, for some reason that escapes me. I didn’t love this book. It was, for me, an okay read, that didn’t really stand out among all the historical fiction I’ve read before.

You see, in spite of being a book set in Nazi Germany during World War II, not much actually happens. And what does happen, is quite predictable, it being a war book and all. What I did learn were some new swear words in German. How could I not? They’re there, on every page.

This was more a book about routine than a book about war. We see Liesel learning to read, day after day after day. We see her foster mother, Rosa, swearing at her and cooking bad pea soup day after day after day. We see her foster father, Hans, rolling cigarettes and trying to find work day after day after day. Not even Max, the Jew hidden in their basement makes this more exciting. He just becomes a part of the family’s routine.

Why the three stars, then? While the characters and the events were unremarkable, the writing style was something else. I did not quite like it, but I have to recognize that you don’t find it anywhere else. However, all that talk about colours was a bit excessive, in my opinion.

Some say this is a tearjerker. Maybe I am stone-hearted, but I was never even close to tears while reading this. All the sad events were, one way or another, expected, and I even felt some of them came too late. Because this is a war book, I was expecting tragedy to strike at every page, which does not happen.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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