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Book reviews and discussions may contain spoilers. Read at your own risk!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Death, Literature, Guilt, Friendship, Humanity, War

I love this book with all my heart. I've read it only twice but I plan on doing more in the future.

I found it captivating that the narrator of the book is, in fact, Death. And that Death is not proud or scary or any of the things we might commonly think of. In fact, he is as much afraid of us as we are of him. He is fascinated with humans and also disgusted by them. He is drawn to Liesel, despite his efforts to stay away. And I found it so interesting that Death himself experiences difficulties with the sheer amount of brutality in the world.

Words are what hold the country under the power of Hitler and the Nazis. They are also what help for the bond between Liesel and Hans as he teaches her to read, what keeps her coming back and eventually stealing from the mayor's wife. The words are the nourishment that Liesel hopes brought Max back to life and that he eventually writes as two books for her. The words are the reason for her crappy life as well as the escape from that life. What would Hitler have been, after all, without words? As this book reminds us, what would any of us be?

Hans feels guilty that he lived during WWI and his friend died. Max is constantly asking for forgiveness while he stays with the Hubermanns. Liesel feels guilty for stealing the books and then for being worried about Max's body if he died. Mr Steiner feels guilty about not letting Rudy go to the Nazi school which eventually got him killed. And tear-out-my-heart when Liesl feels the guilt of not ever giving Rudy that kiss while he was alive!

But the friendships/relationships are by far my favorite part of the story. And of course they all revolve around Liesel. My love for Hans and his silver eyes as he embraces and accepts Liesel for all that she is!! Their loyalty to one another is shown in small ways but is VERY real. Very believable. Or her friendship with Max? "Often I wish this would all be over, Liesel, but then somehow you do something like walk down the basement steps with a snowman in your hands." But lets get right down to it. Rudy+Liesel=TLA. I love when death says "The only thing worse than a boy who hates you is a boy who loves you." Rudy and Liesel would do anything for each other. Yet they are capable of giving almost nothing but their friendship. They are there for one another through every misery, embarrassment, and hard knock life situation that comes along. I literally just finished it for the second time and I'm still crying from the end. "She leaned down and looked at his lifeless face and Liesel kissed her best friend, Rudy Steiner, soft and true on his lips."

This book combines the beauty and brutality of humanity all at once. "So much good, so much evil," Death says of human nature. "Just add water." The horrors of war and at the same time Rudy placing a teddy bear on the dying pilots chest. Starvation and at the same time a girl being taught to read by a kind and gentle man. A terrified Jew bringing danger and at the same time a gift called "The Standover Man". This book shows us how small defiances and unexpectedly courageous acts remind us of our humanity.

"I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right."

Also, check this out when you have time:


1 comment:

Amanda said...

"This book shows us how small defiances and unexpectedly courageous acts remind us of our humanity." Yes, indeed. Beautiful review Memzy. Thanks for bringing this book into my life. If you ever get the chance get the book on audio. The reader is fantastic and the book reads like poetry so it's delightful to listen to.