Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Thoughts on Markus Zusak's The Book Thief

After an awfully long time, I finally finished reading Markus Zusak's The Book Thief. It took about three months, I think, for me to finish it. This is a new record haha. I don't know exactly why it took me that long to finish it, but I've just realized that it's always harder for me to finish a book that is written by a male author. I don't mean to be sexist or anything, but that is just what happens to me. Maybe it's easier for me to read female authors' writings because I am also a woman. Or maybe it's because men are hard to understand hahaha.

Anyways, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is about a girl named Liesel Meminger. She lived in Germany during the Hitler era. When she started living with her foster parents, Hans and Rosa Hubermann, her fondness for books started growing as well. In the midst the brutality of the war, we could see how the girl's love for the words in her books changed many things and turned them a little brighter.

Me and my copy of The Book Thief and my window :P
Even though I find the book hard to read, I still think it's a remarkable book. The story is definitely touching. It's amazing how the story shows how words, and someone's love for words, can change lives. Hans could avoid death because he was said to be good at writing and was sent to the letter-writing department instead of the war during his time as a soldier. Liesel could soothe a bunch of hysterical people in the safety basement during raids by reading them words from her novel. Their mutual love for books also united Liesel and the sad Ilsa Hermann, the mayor's wife. Liesel survived a bomb attack that (SPOILER ALERT) killed all the people she loved because of her love of writing as well. As a person who is also fond of words, books and writing, I feel very related and touched by this.

Another thing from this book that catches my attention is Liesel's anger. She was such an angry little girl. I was stunned when I read the parts where she beat her friend up when she got teased, where she channeled her anger to stealing, where she ranted in front of Ilsa Hermann after Rosa got fired, etc. It's a bit rare to find female characters in fiction who are soft and angry at the same time, so I like how this book shows that complexity. It gives me the same feeling that Supergirl gives. 

I don't have so much to say about The Book Thief but I do have so many favorite quotes from the book. So, here they are.

Somehow, between the sadness and loss, Max Vandenburg, who was now a teenager with hard hands, blackened eyes and a sore tooth, was also a little disappointed. Even disgruntled. As he watched his uncle sink slowly into the bed, he decided that he would never allow himself to die like that.
The man's face was so accepting.
So yellow and tranquil, despite the violent architecture of his skull --
The endless jawline, stretching for miles, the pop-up cheekbones and the pot-hole eyes. So calm it made the boy want to ask something.

Where's the fight? he wondered.
Where's the will to hold on?
(page 196)

On the ration cards of Nazi Germany, there was no listing for punishment, but everyone had to take their turn.
(page 422)

Yes, the Fuhrer decided that he would rule the world with words. "I will never fire a gun," he said. "I will not have to." Still, he was not rash. Let's allow him at least that much. He was not a stupid man at all. His first plan of attack was to plant the words in as many areas of his homeland as possible.
He planted them day and night, and cultivated them.
He watched them grow, until eventually, great forests of words had risen throughout Germany. It was a nation of farmed thoughts.
(page 451, The Word Shaker)

For some reason, dying men always ask questions they know the answer to. Perhaps it's so they can die being right.
(page 475)

"And please," Ilsa Hermann advised her, "don't punish yourself, like you said you would. Don't be like me, Liesel."
(page 527)

Sometimes I think my papa is an accordion. When he looks at me and smiles and breathes, I hear the notes.
(page 531)

His soul sat up. It met me. Those kinds of souls always do - the best ones. The ones who rise up and say, "I know who you are and I am ready. Not that I want to go, of course, but I will come."
(Death on Hans Hubermann's soul, page 535)

Rating: 4/5

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