Tuesday, June 12, 2007

From the Shelves 2

This post comes later than I had intended, primarily because I was trying to decide if I was going to comment on this book, as it violates the original idea of these book recommendations. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is not a happy book. It isn't completely depressing either, but if you read it and don't cry the police should come for you as you are clearly a sociopath with no feelings.

The story is set in Munich during World War II. Oh god! It's one of those books? Yes and no. Yes, because it is about the horrors of war. And no, because, you see, this book is narrated by Death. The title character is a young girl named Liesel who falls in love with books and decides, as her form of protest, to steal books (and a few other things) from the oppressors in her city. Liesel, it should be noted, is not Jewish. Max, who is hidden in her basement, is though, and this is as much his story as it is Liesel's. Ostensibly, this book is for middle school students, but at 550 pages, and with phrases like "he tasted like regret in the shadows of trees" and the liberal use of the word asshole, frequently as a term of affection, it is only pretending. Not that they wouldn't enjoy it, but there is so much in this book, it is unfair to stamp it with the stigma of being young adult literature. (And I think there is much more to young adult literature than most people are aware of and I still don't want it labeled as such.)

Despite the darkness there is humor to be found in this book, as well as much sadness. Death is a very busy man throughout this novel, coming to collect those you would least expect him to, and those you do not want him to. The ending is both sad and happy, much like life itself. I highly recommend this book, but have tissues at the ready. For you too, will be "haunted by humans" just as Death is after you read The Book Thief.