Tragic. Hideous. Beautiful. Those were the first three words that came out of my mouth when I finished this book by Markus Zusak and Dr. H asked "How was it?" How to describe a book written by Death himself as he tells the tale of the enduring force of love and death in the midst of World War 2 in Germany? The protagonist--the Book Thief herself--is Liesel Meminger, who faces tragedy early on but finds love through her new foster family. Their lives are hard. They are poor, hungry, and live in the bitterness of Nazi Germany; but Liesel feeds her soul with the words of stolen books, her foster father's tenderness, her best friend Rudy, and their hidden Jewish fugitive. Death is a compelling narrator as he carries away the endless souls in the mess of WWII but keeps an eye on the story of Liesel.
Zusak combines words and phrases in astounding ways. His imagery is sharp and unusual, impossible to skim. He is a lyric poet and a beat poetry slam in one:
"Her voice was like suicide, landing with a clunk at Liesel's feet."Besides Zusak's amazing ability to play with language and images, he is a powerful storyteller. This is a not an easy read. The subject matter is emotionally hard, and Death-as-Narrator is sometimes overbearing and cold. But it is well worth the emotional energy.
"He tasted like regret in the shadows of trees and in the glow of the anarchist's suit collection."