Nov 14, 2010

The Book Thief

It's 1943, Hitler is on a rampage and Death is busy. Which is just one of the reasons why The Book Thief is a must-read. 

Death is the book's narrator and he, she or whatever, has a great story to tell young adult readers as well as older grown ups.  As Death itself says:
Yes, I have seen a great many things in this world. I attend the greatest disasters and work for the greatest villains.
But then there are other moments.
There's a multitude of stories (a mere handful, as I had previously suggested) that I allow to distract me as I work, just as the colors do. I pick them up in the unluckiest, unlikeliest places and I make sure to remember them as I go about my work. The Book Thief is one such story. 
Liesel Meminger is The Book Thief, one of the best young female characters I  have had the pleasure to meet. She's vulnerable but strong. She is damaged, but like the best people, she has gone through hell and come back a kick-ass heroine. Aside from Liesel, I fell in love with so many wonderful characters in this book. I love Hans, Rudy, Max, Ilsa and even Rosa. They made me cry buckets. 

Don't be daunted by my mention of Death as narrator and the crying-of-buckets. Markus Zusak's young adult novel is unsettling and at times heartbreaking. When you're done with it though, you'll realize how awesome it is just to be alive. Speaking of… this 4-year-old has a minor obsession about death and mamas growing old. 

Blame it on November trips to the cemetery and a creepy book by Robert Munsch. I Love You Forever, anyone? She is intrigued but also freaked-out about death.  "Mamas are not supposed to die!" One day, my dear Chicha you have got to read The Book Thief


Cely said...

Looks like another book is added to my wish list. Thank you!

Nona said...

You're welcome Cely! Hope you'll love reading it as I did : )

Barni said...

That's why I made your write that article last year, so you would know what time say if she asked you about death :). The creepy part about the mom in Robert Munsch's book? My God, that Mama has no boundaries. Did you notice she put up a ladder to his window, when he was an adult living away from home? Where maybe his wife also sleeps?!

Nona said...

Barns, the research definitely came in handy! I followed Bennie's advice: keep God out of it (for now), make the explanation simple and brief and DO NOT LIE about the inevitability of death. Latest mention of the topic via Chicha came this way: "Mama, I'm not going to cry okay... but you know, it's really, really bad when mamas die." Better than the full-on bawling I told you about.

As for Love You Forever, creepy is the word. I was talking to her teachers about that book, that it creeps her out so maybe that's one kids' classic she may have a weird reaction to, in case they read it in class. Teacher Mark said: we were just talking about it too. They also find it kind of strange.

tashie's mommy said...

Hahaha! Barni, your lack of boundaries comment made me laugh at the image that popped into my head of my mother-in-law entering our room in the middle of the night to hug my husband. Yikes! :) The totally sappy adult me loved that book. I guess I didn't take it too literally; it spoke to the mom in me that would surely want to kiss and hug my child every single day - even when she's all grown-up. I agree though that, like The Giving Tree, it's not really a book for young kids.

Barni said...

But I have to humbly admit, It took maybe 50 reads, before I could recite it without choking up and honking into kleenex. My dad teared up the first time he read it. But by the the time you finally come to memorize this lovely story and read it like a robot, other things become apparent. Like, Oh God, she brought the ladder from home. Talk about pre-meditated. Why did she have to climb through the window? If I were his wife, I would have screamed in fright and unthinkingly thwacked her with a pillow.

AnaJG said...

Was supposed to join the Hedgehogs for Book Thief but when I read the synopsis, I decided I just wasnt ready for some heavy stuff! Will try to find the fortitude to pick it up soon!
Re Love You Forever, why is it creepy? It shows the never ending circle of love between parents and their children and as the child grows up, the parent's love remains constant. Maybe not recommended for preschoolers...I was around 20 when I first read it and I still cant stop the tears from rolling down to this day!

Nona said...

Patris just doesn't like the idea of mothers getting old and dying. Barni's creep factor is the ladder climbing into her adult son's room. But that's your typical Munsch-style over the top metaphor for you As Tashie's Mom says, need not be taken too literally. But to me, the literal-visual was just kinda strange... : )