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Words of a Bibliophile

"It's only words, and words are all I have, to take your heart away." —Bee Gees

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief - Trudy White, Markus Zusak

This story about a poor, book-stealing girl and her life in Nazi-ruled Germany is an extraordinary tale for many reasons. One of them is of course the fact that it is narrated by Death. He wasn't terrifying though, he was even rather compassionate. In his narration, the world was filled with vibrant colors, and inanimate objects took on a life of their own and were described using the word 'who' instead of 'which'. Contrary to popular belief, Death never meant any harm and simply did his job. He did have a tendency to spoil certain parts of the book ahead of time, but trust me, he did not do it in ill will. I enjoyed the story all the same.

~* A Small Fact *~

There are a lot of small facts
written like this in the book.

The facts and observations written separately from the text felt gimmicky to me at first, but they soon gained a greater significance once I got used to them. The book was also a bit too long that I felt the story plodded at times, but I did appreciate all the little details about the life of book thief Liesel Meminger. The other characters were also larger than life. Her silver-eyed accordionist foster father, possibly the kindest man on earth. Her foul-mouthed but big-hearted foster mother from whom I learned various German swear words. Rudy Steiner, her best friend and partner in (mis)adventures, my favorite character in the whole book. The Jew in her basement. The lady in the library.

Ultimately this book is about the power of words and how they connect people, and about the humans who read them. Death observed them all through everything. He watched how they caused so much hate and suffering, but he also witnessed their immense capacity to love.

"A human doesn't have a heart like mine. The human heart is a line, whereas my own is a circle, and I have the endless ability to be in the right place at the right time. The consequence of this is that I'm always finding humans at their best and worst. I see their ugly and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both."