The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak was recommended to me by two different strangers. One was while I was browsing in a book shop, and the other came online. I looked it up, saw that it was set in WWII and thought, “I don’t feel like being depressed” and I let the idea of reading the story go.
My local library had a used book sale, that we almost missed because they haven’t been putting up early notices like they used to. Only because my voracious-reader-twelve-year old really wanted a requested book, did I drive to the library on a Friday night. It was the ‘members only’ preview of the books for sale. Of course I joined up right then and we took a nice leisurely look-see of what was on offer.
I’ve been keeping an especial eye out for a Ken Follett book, in paper or hardback, and my daughter has been jones’n for Rick Riordan books. No such luck. No Follett, no Riordan, no good biographies (in my opinion), and blammit only the kind of cookbooks I have zero interest in. When lo, The Book Thief winked at me from a low shelf of paperbacks for grown ups. Turns out a lot of YA fiction was in the wrong place, but that was the only one I wanted. You see, three hints is the charm. Two suggestions and a lone copy in a sea of books I didn’t want, it was like a nudge to the back of the head, and the admonition, ‘Didn’t you hear the first two suggestions?’
How many books have had Death as the narrator, done so cleverly, and with a perfect lilt of poetry? I admire Liesel, the main character, and how resilient she is. I find myself swimming in the ebb and flow, feeling the cold, the bite of hunger and the humor of Rudy Steiner.
I havent finished the story yet, it is not an emotionally easy read, and I want to savor the parts I like. Not just the characters, but the artistry the author has composed around them, and not lose their flavor to any disappointment that will come if it ends badly for Liesel, Max and the rest, as it probably will. After all, when Death is telling a story, no matter how beautifully, do I really expect it to end happily?
I recommend it. I am thanking the Universe. I absolutely will pay closer attention in the future.