The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

He laughed. ‘Good night, book thief’.

That night, Liesel Meminger truly became then book thief.

As the name suggests, this book tells the story of a book thief who is a nine-year-old in the beginning of the story. And what is more surprising is that the story of the thief is narrated by Death. Yes, Death. It is beautiful to read how Markus Zusak weaves in bit and pieces of Death’s daily chores in Liesel Meminger, the book thief’s story. I guess it will not be incorrect when I say that Death had been Liesel’s constant companion. They first met when she made her first train journey and It took her brother. This was Liesel’s first encounter with Death, but she was too young to feel its presence or even understand the paradox It stood for.

Liesel is on her way to her foster parents’ home. At first sight, you see a scrawny kid with disheveled hair, looking all awkward at the place where she is expected to live for the rest of her life. She gets attached to her foster father Hans Hubberman who rolls cigarettes as a side source of income. Her mother is a washerwoman who abuses everyone but has a heart of 24-karat gold. 

Her neighbour Rudy is her saukerel (German for pig) of a best friend. They do develop feelings for each other, but it gets too late before they are acknowledged. They do kiss, but the circumstances under which that happens, will make you weep. Rudy accompanies Liesel on her book thieving sessions and she on his food thieving ones. They ride bikes down the streets of Molching, play football until their clothes get all muddy and the best part? They understand each other’s silence. They are perfect soul mates.

Trouble sets in when Hans hides Max, a Jew in his basement when the Nazi rule is at its peak. Amid the financial and food scarcity, the Hubbermans take care of Max like he is their own. Max has not seen the light of the day, quite literally, and silently hides away in the dark, chilling basement. So much so that the Hubbermans often fear that he is dead.

Markus Zusak plays with your feelings in certain parts of the book, which is what this book annoying, yet appealing enough to continue till the end. Zusak makes you cry, occasionally laugh. But I found myself smiling through most of the book. He teases you when Death passes Liesel’s door and makes you sigh when It does come to take her.

The narrative will make you witness these events as if you are standing right in the middle of it all. You see Hitler’s rise and how Molching’s resident ‘Heil Hitler’ on any and every public occasion. Death is an independent element of their lives, yet it is the most important one. Your heart will skip a beat every time It gently plucks people’s soul as a souvenir. Reading this version of Death makes you like it because he does not appear as cruel as he is assumed to be.

I’ll give this book an undoubted 5/5 and is a must, must read. I first read this book an epub and when I was done, it washed upon me an unnerving calmness. Later, I also brought a paperback to re-read it. This story of a thief who steals books at the age of nine will make you’re your heart ache and yet feel happy with how it ended.

Review by Kinjal Panchal. You can connect with this review’s author here : kinjal_panchal._

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