The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

“Here is a small fact: You are going to die.”
War. It is amazing how a mere three-letter word can mean devastation to all alike. Not all fight for love, care, and humanity. An individual fights against various discriminations of society. A soldier fights to protect his nation. Countries conflict for power and to rule. The irony is that these wars aim to bring peace! Can peace always be bought by violence?
The Book Thief is an exclusive novel narrated by Death during World War 2. If death were to be personified, most people would describe it as violent, cruel, evil, and malicious. On the contrary, our narrator claims to be cheerful, amiable, affable and fair. Death, in this story, has a lot to do with colours and, of course, humans. But a young girl, Liesel Meminger, is what interests him the most.
The book beautifully portrays the life of this nine-year-old Jewish girl. Her parents were sent to concentration camps, to their death. Her brother was also dead. She lived with her foster family. Her foster father, a kind man, was a painter and also played the piano accordion. He encouraged Liesel to read and write. Her foster mother did washing and ironing to supplement their income. She was strict with Liesel, as opposed to her husband. They both loved her. Rudy Steiner was her neighbor and destined to be her best friend. Besides her family, it was Rudy who made the challenges and miseries bearable for Liesel. The arrival of Max, a 24-year-old man changed their lives, making it more dangerous. Raids, strikes, and boycott were what followed. The sight of Jews being marched like cattle to concentration camps was also not rare. This was succeeded by bombs and air-strikes and death was the miserable result. Death was very busy with too many colours to see and souls to carry. With every death the sky displayed a new colour. Liesel saw the face of Death thrice before he finally embraced her.
The best thing about the book is its unique narration and the fact that it powerfully showcases the vague and devastating nature of war. The story reminds us that death is a result. The thrilling plot effectively displays the chaos, plight, and dilemma of the war-struck country in an attempted cheerfulness. The themes revolve around war, death, love, care, friendship, and, most importantly, faith and hope. The adventurous life of Liesel Meminger is efficiently put through by the author.
The brilliant narration, use of humour, perfect portrayal of hatred, anger, fear, and various other emotions adds weightage to the book. All of these adds to the beauty of its plot and makes The Book Thief a must read and an international bestseller.
“A last note from your narrator: I am haunted by humans.”
Aditi Jain
1 CAMS J

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