On Friday, I finished reading my first “Monthly Reading Invitational” title, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.
(Summary via Goodreads.com)
It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery….
Narrated by Death, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a young foster girl living outside of Munich in Nazi Germany. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist – books. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever they are to be found.
With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, Liesel learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids, as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.
This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.
I am absolutely in love with this book and the writing style of Zusak. I discovered the highlighting tool on my Kindle app, and began spotlighting all of the phrases that appealed to me.
It kills me sometimes, how people die.
The conversation of bullets.
– description of war
their faces loaded up with expression
Tears like crystal floated down his skin, despite the fact that he was not crying. The tears had been bashed out of him.
– description of the defeated
The wood was alive, still humming from the beating it had just been given.
– the door after a heavy knocking
If only he’d turned for one last look at his family as he left the apartment. Perhaps then the guilt would not have been so heavy. No final goodbye. No final grip of the eyes. Nothing but goneness.
– A Jewish man leaving his family, the guilt of saving himself from the events of Kristallnacht.
They both nightmared
– “Nightmare” as a verb
Five hundred souls. I carried them in my fingers, like suitcases. Or I’d throw them over my shoulder. It was only the children I carried in my arms.
-Death’s description of the bombing of Koln, over a thousand bombers, and the way he carried out the deaths.
I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn’t already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race-that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant.
His soul sat up. It met me. Those kinds of souls always do – the best ones. The ones who rise up and say “I know who you are and I am ready. Not that I want to go, of course, but I will come.” Those souls are always light because more of them have been put out. More of them have already found their way to other places.
I witness the ones that are left behind, crumbled among the jigsaw puzzles of realization, despair, and surprise. They have punctured hearts. They have beaten lungs.
-the losing of someone is far worse than dying
To live. Living was living. The price was guilt and shame.
-The guilt felt by Michael Holtzapfel after surviving WWII and his brother did not.