Changing perspectives on reading Classic Literature and other genres

Monday, February 10, 2014

Historical Fiction, a review of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak




Courtesy of Goodreads
Find out more about the author 
Markus Zusak on Facebook, HERE.
Zusak’s novel, The Book Thief, follows the portrayal of the childhood years of Liesel Meminger as observed by Death. We first encounter Liesel, as Death is aboard a train that her mother, little brother, and she are traveling on through Germany during the Holocaust era. Death is there to collect the soul of her brother, and decides rather uncharacteristically journey with Liesel and her mom as they bury him. It is from the events of the cemetery that Death sees Liesel steal her first book, The Gravedigger’s Handbook. It is at this moment, where we see how Liesel is described by Death simply as the “book thief.” As the story progresses, Death observes Liesel encounter times of sorrow, joy, fear, love, and facing a time where existing outside of the government’s idea of perfection was dangerous.

The author selects a unique textual format for presenting the thoughts of Death, creating a shifting reality for the reader. It is in this reality that the reader can find some safety in knowing they are outside the events, while experiencing all the emotion of them. This book is recommended to be a part of any literary collection, more specifically would be well suited for providing context and gaining the attention of the YA reader. However, it is also recommended that emotional awareness of the reader should be present, as the novel does explore a time and events where not only adults but people their age and younger are facing hatred, danger, and death on a frequent basis. It is recommended also that the reader be of an age where some knowledge about the Holocaust has been taught such as by the age of 13 or older. This novel is fantastic in the sense it captivates the audience in a surreal spectrum of seeing events through the eyes of an objective observer.

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