Saturday, December 27, 2008

What I read: "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak

Recommended to me by several people, "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak ranks among the best books I've read this year. I had put the book on hold at the library and waited a couple weeks, even though the library's Web site showed several available. When I went to look again, I found that the library keeps this book on the teen shelf. Thinking I wasn't in the mood for a "teen" book, I almost skipped it.

But at a Christmas party, my friend loaned me her copy -- practically forcing it into my hands. Thank goodness she did.

"The Book Thief" was nearly impossible to put down. It's one of those books you can't stop reading, can't wait to see what happens next, yet hope never ends. Finishing the book, I found myself wanting to turn back to page one and start over.

Like the characters in his book, Zusak paints vivid images with his words.

"Their glasses chimed together and the moment Liesel raised it to her mouth, she was bitten by the fizzy, sickly sweet taste of champagne. Her reflexes forced her to spit straight onto her papa's overalls, watching it foam and dribble. A shot of laughter followed from all of them, and Hans encouraged her to give it another try. On the second attempt she was able to swallow it, and enjoy the taste of a glorious broken rule. It felt great. The bubbles ate her tongue. They prickled her stomach. Even as they walked to the next job, she could feel the warmth of pins and needles inside her."

Himmel Street and its inhabitants come to life, struggling with each other, what's happening in the world around them and their own inner demons. I knew little about the book before I read it and I don't want to say too much about the plot or the characters because it was such a joy for me to discover them on my own. I hope you can do the same.

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