This past month of being back in SF has been such a blur that I’m lucky I’ve been reading at all! I picked up The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak, a few weeks ago, but I have to admit: I’m not even halfway through yet. While still in Dublin I saw the posters up for the film, and I’ve been wanting to go—but not if it means breaking my “read it first” preference!
From the opening lines, this book is surprising. Given that it’s set during the second world war, I fully expected a straight-on, forthright narrator—probably omniscient—something that would get straight to the bone of the story. This tale is told by a pretty unexpected speaker (who I won’t reveal, if you’ve not read it yet!), and Zusak applies an interesting layer of synesthetic description that takes the whole yarn to a new space by overlapping our senses and applying strokes of color to otherwise barren narrative landscapes. There are also some spot-on, yet unexpected, descriptions—like Rosa, the adoptive mother, who has a face looking like creased-up cardboard, and how “There was no one to really argue with, but Mama managed it expertly every chance she had.” Those descriptions and slight turns of phrase make this serious book a bit playful, or at the least, a bit more naive and frank, all at once.
I'm looking forward to reading this through to the end, and after having visited Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps in June, I'm glad for the new perspective that lends to my understanding and immersion into books like this one.
Have you read The Book Thief? Watched the movie? No spoilers (puh-leez!), but I’d love to hear how you liked either one.
See last month's literary mood board: The Tiger's Wife
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