Last week I finished The Book Thief, spending longer and longer periods with its pages in each reading. It was one book in a very long time that I’ve wanted to skip forward to the end to find out what happened to the characters, those whose futures were not hinted at in other sections. I didn’t. But that’s not to say it was easy to fight the urge to do so. I think the reader just gets that invested in the novel.
The characters were so complex, each layer peeling away through the different sections, which is so telling of Zusak’s writing. Real people are complex, and he has illustrated this so well in that yes, the main characters are developed well, but so are the secondary characters, and those in passing. It is really a small microcosm that he has created in those pages. And the other thing that was quite remarkable was delivering the human element in an otherwise bleak world. When I think of WWII-era Germany, I think of the dark period in human history from our history texts. But when reading about Liesel, it wasn’t a World War II novel, not like Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead was a World War II novel. It was the story of Liesel and World War II was the setting, a backdrop, encroaching more and more on this character I became all too invested in.
On the day I finished it, I tweeted that this book reminded me of why I write. It may be that I write a different style, or a different genre of books, and I’m not saying that it reminds me that I want to write a literary novel such as this. But it just reminded me of what I love about books. Why I love books. It’s the world creation, the character development, the seeing the possibilities in another way, etc. It’s amazing when books make that kind of impact.
It was such a great read. I kept reading though a tear may have been rolling down my cheek, wanting more to get to the end than to wipe it away. So in the off chance you cannot tell from this review, I’m definitely recommending that you read this if you haven’t already. And if you have read it, what did you think?