I have my rules about reading and in reading The Book Thief, I broke one of them. I don't usually read YA books and it's likely that as a woman of a certain vintage, vampires, werewolves and teenage dystopias just don't appeal to me. Factor in that my time is limited to read the good adult books that are out there and I don't often pick up a YA novel.
A confession: another reading rule I believe in, is that no movie ever compares favourably with the book. It can be a wonderful film but the experience is never as good. I stumbled onto The Book Thief by seeing the trailer for its movie on tv. It hooked me like a clever book trailer so I put a hold in at the local library.
I have to say I loved Markus Zusak's characters. The setting is Molching, a small town near Dachau, the Nazi death camp. Death is the narrator and as the story unfolds, he becomes more and more sympathetic. Liesle Memeniger is the protagonist, an 11 year-old girl who is sent to live with foster parents for safety. She never sees her mother again. Her foster father is a delightful man who is an accordianst, not the best musician but because he plays from the heart as he does everything, his playing is popular. Liesle doesn't find her foster mother sympathetic until she comes to realize the softness beneath her hard exterior. And then there is Rudy, the boy her age who becomes her best friend. There is an innocent attraction that she never acknowledges and that is one of her great regrets.
For ordinary Germans in WW11, there were many hardships. This is one of the few books that shows that the war killed and starved the common German people. They were abused by the Nazis, too. There is even a Jewish runaway who is hidden by Liesle's new family. Markus Zusak's book is sad and yet affirms the strength of the human spirit. There is hatred and horror in the world but there are good, resilient people, too.
The Book Thief was first published in 2005. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it. If you know a young person who hasn't read it yet, it would make a great gift.
I am an avid reader and like to share some of my "finds" with others.