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552 pages, Hardcover
First published March 1, 2006
"As he looked uncomfortably at the human shape before him, the young man's voice was scraped out and handed across the dark like it was all that remained of him." (p187)
"Imagine smiling after a slap in the face. Then think of doing it twenty-four hours a day. That was the business of hiding a Jew." (p.239)
"The book was released gloriously from his hand. It opened and flapped, the pages rattling as it covered ground in the air. More abruptly than expected, it stopped and appeared to be sucked towards the water. It clapped when it hit the surface and began to float downstream." (p.325)
"So many humans. So many colours. They keep triggering inside me. They harass my memory. I see them tall in their heaps, all mounted on top of each other. There is air like plastic, a horizon like setting glue. There are skies manufactured by people, punctured and leaking, and there are soft, coal-coloured clouds, beating, like black hearts. And then. There is death. Making his way through all of it. On the surface: unflappable, unwavering. Below: unnerved, untied, and undone." (p.331)
"After ten minutes or so, what was most prominent in the cellar was a kind of non-movement. Their bodies were welded together and only their feet changed position or pressure. Stillness was shackled to their faces. They watched each other and waited." (p.402)
"People and Jews and clouds all stopped. They watched. As he stood, Max looked first at the girl and then stared directly into the sky who was wide and blue and magnificent. There were heavy beams - planks of sun - falling randomly, wonderfully, onto the road. Clouds arched their backs to look behind as they started again to move on. "It's such a beautiful day," he said, and his voice was in many pieces. A great day to die. A great day to die, like this." (pp.543-4)
The Written Review:
This one is a long book. But was it worth all that paper?
Click the link for my video review of the big bois in my life.
Liesel, an orphaned girl, is sent to live with a foster family right before the Nazi's take over Germany.
I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.
A snowball in the face is surely the perfect beginning to a lasting friendship.But their idyllic lives cannot stay that way forever. Food shortages are rampart, money becomes ever tighter and Papa's son believes every word from Hitler.
Even death has a heart.Whew. I have avoided this one for so long...and I'm so glad that I finally took the plunge.
""Please believe me when I tell you that I picked up each soul that day as if it were newly born. I even kissed a few weary, poisoned cheeks. I listened to their last, gasping cries. Their vanishing words. I watched their love visions and freed them from their fear.""And yet he becomes strangely fascinated with one particular human, the titular book thief, a young German girl Liesel Meminger, whose childhood is marked by war, who learns to read and love and treasure books, who has her small rebellions against the force of society, who learns to love and be loved. Who has to learn to lose what she loves. Because the world is baffling, because it is a cruel place, because often it tries to stomp out love and beauty.
"I guess humans like to watch a little destruction. Sand castles, houses of cards, that's where they begin. Their great skills is their capacity to escalate."The book is beautifully surreal, with the masterfully written language reflecting the alien, non-understandable, strangely fascinating nature of the narrator - Death. It is the mix of colors and strange metaphors, semi-dictionary entries and frequent strange asides, with skipping time, with complete disregard for spoilers.
"Of course, I'm being rude. I'm spoiling the ending, not only of the entire book, but of this particular piece of it. I have given you two events in advance, because I don't have much interest in building mystery. Mystery bores me. It chores me. I know what happens and so do you. "It will note the strangest things, ruminate about the weirdest subjects, and casually in the middle of a lyrical passage, omnisciently will tell us that terrible things are about to occur. It is its job to know, after all. And this prescience does not soften the blows when they finally come; it only brings anticipatory dread and loving appreciation for things and people while they still ARE.
"He does something to me, that boy. Every time. It’s his only detriment. He steps on my heart. He makes me cry."Hans and Rosa Hubermann, who possessed so much integrity and courage, who became real parents to Liesel, who risked everything for what they thought was right. Max Vandenburg, the Jewish fistfighter, who dreamed of battling Hitler and gave Liesel the perfect gift with everything he had.
"[...] Papa, you saved me. You taught me to read. No one can play like you. I'll never drink champagne. No one can play like you."And Liesel herself, lost and broken, but finding comfort and strength in family, friends, and books. Liesel, who learns more about the cold cruelty of this world than most children should ever know. Liesel, who learns to read from the Gravedigger's handbook, who rescues the book from fire, who would rather steal books than food, who is not afraid to show kindness in the face of very real threat, who finally gives Rudy that overdue kiss, who fascinates even Death itself. All of them remained human despite the circumstances, despite the pressure to do otherwise, despite anything. And I love them for that.
"Make no mistake, the woman had a heart. She had a bigger one that people would think. There was a lot in it, stored up, high in miles of hidden shelving. Remember that she was the woman with the instrument strapped to her body in the long, moon-slit night.""
"I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right."
'That's my papa's accordion.' Again. 'That's my papa's accordion.'
* * * Things That Irritate Me * * *interjections, which occur frequently in this novel.
1. These interjections.
2. Interjections like these.