This book. Wow. It touched my very soul. Stroked it actually. Held it and pet it and hugged it and squeezed it and then let go. And that was okay. I let it let go of me because, at the end, I was extremely satisfied and pleased to have had the experience of being touched. Never have I had such pleasure in reading, (actually in my case, listening) to a book that was so intuitively in synch with my soul. I cannot describe in words to you the joy that came to me when I would read a metaphor that struck me with such truth. It enlightened a part of me that had never seen light. It was almost a spiritual experience, reading this book. The tone, the lyrical language, the way it danced and moved--it sang to me.
The way the author wrote was unique to anything I have ever read. The narrator told the story not in a traditional, linear fashion, but in an abstract, comprehensive way that sent a message. There was a reason the story was told. The events illustrated that purpose. And the events didn't have to happen in order for the story to send the message. The message was like a circle, round without beginning or end, and it filled me. The message is something that can't be summed up in a sentence. (Believe me, I just tried and gave up). It can only be illustrated with a story, the story of Liesel Meminger's life.
I enjoyed this style of abstract storytelling because I didn't have to wait for the end of the book to be satisfied. I was satisfied every time I opened the book and feasted upon the art of what lay before me. It was the figurative language and imagery that had me at hello. Everything was so deep that I found myself peeling back layer after layer and discovering more and more and more. The brief, choppy language and the unexpected images were like candy.
Looking at the ground.
She attempted several times to find the right place to start, reading sentences at her feet, joining words to the pine cones and the scraps of broken branches (517) " Literally, no one reads sentences at their feet or joins words to pine cones, but the effect of the figurative language lent to the complex message it was illustrating. The theme was so difficult to grasp that the story could only be told and received through intuitive language and imagery. (I'm sure this drove people who are not naturally intuitive absolutely bonkers).
Besides the metaphorical language, the characters in the story are the vehicle to the message. The theme could not eclipse at the end without the various characters that enter Liesel Meminger's life. The characters are found at all human levels from the ordinary, everyday individual, to the extreme good (as seen in Hans Hubermann) and the extreme evil (as seen in the Fuhrer).
The narrator was, in itself, a fascinating character. The fact that he notices color was brilliant. It was right in line with the irony. I also appreciated that Death had a quirky sense of humor--another irony. There is beauty in death. There is joy and happiness amidst pain and suffering. Love and hate exist in the same sphere at the same time--they aren't mutually exclusive.
"I have hated the words and I have loved them (528)." Such is life. There can be darkness and despair and hope all in the same moment--as best illustrated to us by Liesel Meminger's life narrated through Death.
Before I go, I'd like to share my favorite passage from the book. It's found on the last page when Death and Liesel are talking about understanding her story.
"Could you understand it?
And at that point, there was a great pause.
A few cars drove by, each way. Their drivers were Hitlers and Hubermanns, and Maxes, killers, Dillers, and Steiners...
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.
None of these things, however, came out of my mouth.
All I was able to do was to turn to Liesel Meminger and tell her the only truth I truly know. I said it to the book thief and I say it now to you.........I am haunted by humans."
P.S. Ah, isn't that brilliantly stated? It's such a paradox. I would like to add a big, "ME TOO," to the last statement the narrator makes. Maybe that's why I love this book so much. I can relate to what the narrator said about constantly overestimating and underestimating and rarely just estimating humans. People seldom live up to the ideals and the expectations I have for them. I live in a very idealistic world in my head and it's painful to step into reality. I have accepted that this is just the way that it is for me. Sucks actually.
P.P.S. I have way, way more to say about this book and the characters, but I have to get up in five hours....okay one more thing....two more.....I wish Hans Hubermann was my father and even though I rarely reread a novel (I think I've only reread two novels) I will reread "The Book Thief." Or maybe I won't, but if I wanted to reread something, this is what I would choose. My new favorite book plus infinity squared times pi.