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We're Watching You

The Book Thief Review

Written by Kujeyna Mei Houng

You are the author of your own life, your own story. But who actually gets to read it from the beginning until the end? The Book Thief takes storytelling of someone’s life to a whole new level as the life of a young German girl in Nazi Germany is given a more realistic point of view through the eyes and personification of Death. The story revolves around Liesel Meminger’s discovery and growing love for books. The first book she ever laid her hands on was a simple handbook for grave diggers, but it held sentimental value for her as it was a book she picked up by her brother’s graveside. She begins to learn how to read from her foster father, Hans Hubermann. As we continue with her on her journey, growing up, fighting school bullies to stealing books and hiding a Jew in the basement, we are constantly bewitched by the author’s simplistic but evocative style of writing as he brings us through a heart-wrenching yet, heart-warming story.

The most compelling thing in this book is the way the author can completely pull you into the pages with just a few short phrases. Be it joy, anxiety, fear or anguish, the author brings the pages to life by inciting these feelings in you. Not only that, the author also creates such believable but lovable characters. Even the most hard-headed characters have their soft spots that will make you remember that these characters are humans like us with emotions and our respective complexities. One such example is Liesel Meminger’s foster mother, Rosa Hubermann. She is depicted as a very fierce and rough woman, you’d think that she would always be angry. However, as the story progresses there are moments where she shows momentary tenderness and kindness towards others.

Liesel Meminger, although she doesn’t express her emotions as openly as her foster mother, is also a very beautifully made character. She has the maturity a child shouldn’t have. Due to the circumstances she grew up in, she notices little things that no other child would realize. Emotions and words, the things adults assume children wouldn’t understand, she can because of the words that she clings on to, the books that she steals, the conversations she overhears in the kitchen and the sights she notices on the street. Liesel Meminger observes, listens and dissects every word she hears or reads. She forms her own beliefs and hopes from her own understanding in her own little world. Additionally, Markus Zusac masterfully depicts Nazi Germany in a very surreal way. The stereotypes we have heard regarding Nazi Germany is brought to life in this book. Focusing on the silent suffering of the German people and the pain and sympathy felt for the prosecuted.

Throughout the course of reading this book, my feelings were completely thrown around, brought up then stomped on and finally given a bitter-sweet ending. However, I loved every bit of the journey I had with Liesel Meminger. I loved that I could feel what she felt and hope for the same things she hoped for. Whenever I remember the journey I took through this book, I will always remember it as a spectacular one, nothing less. I would highly recommend this book to any readers out there who want a good read especially if they appreciate the beautiful art of words.

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