The Book Thief

“Like most misery, it started with apparent happiness.”

Markus Zusak novel “The book thief’’ is a thrilling book narrated by death which makes it stand out from other War novels, not so much the story but by way of how the author tells it. Having ‘’death’’ as the narrator for the story took the novel to the next level and made it unique. It elicited the message that death is inescapable and will eventually come for all people. This was an interesting perspective on a remarkably dark time in the history of our world which compelled me even more to read the novel and to continue the journey with Liesel Meminger.

The novel is set in Nazi Germany and primarily takes place on Himmel Street. The story is about a young orphaned girl ”Liesel” who goes to live with her new foster parents Hans and Rosa Huberman. Liesel experiences the horrors of war and the loss of her biological family. However, Liesel finds solace in stealing books. This can be presented in the text ”There was something black and rectangular lodged in the snow. Only the girl saw it she bent down and picked it up and held it firmly in her fingers. The book had silver writing on it”. This was Liesel’s first act of book thievery. Book thievery becomes an escape for Liesel it awakes her to a new entire world of words which connects her to people in incredible ways. In the “The book thief” we see the struggles of belonging in the characters, even though the novel is set in a different period the struggles of these characters in the novel mirror the strains of young adolescents in today’s society which makes this easy to relate. Liesel Memimger is a brave, strong girl who’s struggling to find herself in the beginning, her innocence was taken away too soon, and she was forced to learn that the world is not the happiest place. Liesel had to grow up quickly more so than other children, after losing her brother to sickness and her mother to communism; I see my self somewhat immediately won over to her cause since her story is so tragic however she carries on, and as the novel advances we learn that Liesel matures as a person from her experiences. Liesel is a character I can sympathise with; I feel deep empathy on what she had to go through and somewhat I can relate as we both have lost a parent I can feel her most profound pain. However, Liesel sends a powerful message of moving forward which can help us cope with our tragedies which makes her more admirable. Liesel finds love in her foster parents and even her friends. She finds the love for literature which helped with her belonging which changed her life. “She was the book thief without the words. Trust me, though, the words were on their way, and when they arrived, Liesel would hold them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out like the rain” I learn from this quote that Liesel had the courage to stand up for what she believes in and finally she finds her voice and belonging in the world. Even though I have not experienced something so traumatic compared to Liesel, it still strikes a personal chord with me as it conveys that books and words are so influential. I think having Liesel as the protagonist and death interacting with her was interesting because you see deaths affection for Liesel which you do not imagine death being affectionate but he saw that she was different from the people around her which genuinely makes Liesel a prominent character in the book thief.

Reading ”The book thief” I’ve developed a unique love for every character. However, Liesel, Hans, And max convey important messages of bravery and doing what’s right really made the book thief an influential story. Hans is also a character that I believe whos struggles with his self-identity and belonging. He challenged Hitler’s regimes and chose the life against it and aches a tremendous social annihilation. However, Hans chooses kindness and fights injustice even when his family is at risk, This can be presented in the text ”In November 1940 when max Vanderburg arrives in the kitchen of 33 Himmel street” Max Vanderburg the jew closed his eyes and dropped a little further in safety” This conveys what kind of man Hans is he protects a Jew ”Max” and hides him in his basement which keeps him safe. He seeks good, and what is right which I respect. Hans gradually finds belonging in the ones who mattered to him most; he models bravery and strength for his daughter Liesel and his wife Rosa and justice for max which all help with his self-identity. I think Hans and Rosa are so interesting in contrast to Liesel, there is so much love, and we can see that Liesel is the glue that tied them all together.

Max Vandenburg knows what it feels like to struggle with self-identity and belonging, Being a jew under Hilter control means that surviving the terrors of WW2 is a lot harder, ”as the years passed by, the Jews were being terrorised at random throughout the country” Markus Zusak really bought Hans and Max in the most unexpected way, the man with the accordion kept his promise and Max found belonging in the Huberman family and particularly Liesel ”The juggling comes to an end now, but the struggling does not. I have Liesel Meminger in one hand, Max Vandenburg in the other. Soon, I will clap them together. Just give me a few pages” This quote helps me understand that Max’s relationship with Liesel throughout the Book thief was meant to be. Liesel helped Max find his self-identity and made him feel belonged. Liesel helps Max experience a life that doesn’t have to be in the darkness she gave him words so powerful to paint images that he could not see for himself, and he lived every day in joy with Liesel which made Max feel recognized and loved.

I cannot express how beautifully written “The book thief” is,  it focuses on words and storytelling as a function which you see that in writing as the author Markus Zusak chooses the right words and quotes to convey his message. We recognise “death” pays attention to himself increasingly throughout the novel he starts to develop as a character who also struggles with belonging ”it keeps me sane. It helps me cope, considering the length of time I’ve been performing this job. the trouble is, who could ever replace me?” Liesel, Hans, Max and even ”death” are important characters that do struggle with belonging which can mirror real-life events today, however, courage, heartbreak, unconditional love and the persistence of facing challenges and doing what is right that was all presented made ”The book thief” a truly unforgettable read, it might take a little effort to get used to death being drawn in the novel but definitely would recommend this to all people who seeks a insight on how WW2 affected individuals which can put you in the shoes of someone who is less fortunate.

Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. Natasha, there are a number of intriguing ideas presented in this response.
    Again I would look at the structure of each point. For example, in your first point you introduce Liesel and the idea of he being a “book thief”, but then you do not explain what the significance of Liesel stealing books is, until the end of the point. Try to logically flow your discussion so that your evidence connects with the “conclusions” you are making.

    Also, ensure that there is enough explanation about who Max or Hans is – not too much, but enough to give context to their situations and actions.


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