* A word of warning before I begin - I've lost my USB cable for my camera, so I'm currently unable to upload my own photographs onto the blog - hence me using photographs sourced from elsewhere on this post. I've ordered a new cable, so I should be back to using my own photographs again next week. *
Today's post is a review of my most recent read: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.
The story is set in Germany just before, and throughout, the second world war. The main protagonist is a young girl called Liesel Meminger who has been sent to live with a foster family on the (not so) aptly named Himmel Street (Heaven Street), an impoverished area of the fictional town Molching.
One of the main 'selling points' of this book, for me, was the unique narrative style - which I won't ruin for you! - but it is a fantastic idea, and very effective.
I would describe Liesel as a quiet but headstrong character, she's also incredibly intuitive and very curious about just about everything, with an amazing sense of humanity. Liesel's foster parents, Hans and Rosa, are both colourful characters too. My initial impression of Rosa Hubermann was not a positive one; she comes across as strict, slightly vulgar and, generally, not a particularly nice lady whereas Hans Hubermann is immediately portrayed as a kind, considerate and young-at-heart new father figure for Liesel.
Inquisitive Liesel soon develops a passion for books and, in particular, words and the magic that they can contain and express. The title of the book, as you may have guessed, comes from the fact that Liesel loves to steal books - from wherever she can find them, including the mayors wifes extensive library.
Throughout the novel, a relationship with the young Ruby Steiner also develops. It begins as a friendship based around football, stealing and fist fights, but - as the two characters grow up - it develops into something more, a teenage romance, which is truly beautiful to read.
There is also the arrival of Max Vandenburg 'the Jewish fist fighter' who seeks refuge with the Hubermann family, as the result of an unbroken promise made by Hans decades earlier. For anybody who knows the history of Germany, in particular whilst it was under the rule of Hitler and the Nazi party, as soon as Max arrives on the Hubermann's doorstep, you instantly feel tension and fear for the family - or at least I did.
During Max's stay, he forms a friendship with Liesel which, in turn, increases her love for the written and spoken word and he inspires her to write her thoughts, feelings and experiences down which, I feel, helps Liesel to truly become herself.
As I really recommend this book to everyone, I don't want to give away too much - apart from an insight into the characters and the story line - but it truly is an incredibly moving, at times incredibly humorous, and overall incredibly well written novel which will make you not want to put it down.
I'd also thoroughly recommend the film - also named The Book Thief - which is in cinemas now. The book is available from most good book stores, or on Amazon.