Gut wrenching. But triumphant. I absolutely adore this book with all my heart. These are now some of my favorite literary characters of all time. Liesel. Rudy. Max. Hans. Each name stirs a different emotion.
The writing style might seem strange at first, but really, what kind of writing would one expect from narrator like death? He can’t possibly see the world the same way we do. After all, he sees colors first, then humans, duh. The thing that makes it all seem so brilliant, is that I somehow know exactly what he means when he says, “sleepy hair” or “his bones creaked like itchy floorboards.” And if you don’t know what that means, I can’t help you, because there is no translation. It’s just instinct, just a feeling that you get when you see hair described as “sleepy.” It’s so much deeper than “messy hair,” and even comparing it to “messy hair” diminishes the meaning. That is some incredible writing, in my opinion.
Beyond the writing, the message was so powerful, and Max’s book was the epitome. Tears literally streamed down my cheeks and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I loved the scene when Max was marching through town, and Liesel walked behind him and started quoting his book to him. “There once was a strange, small man… but there was a word shaker, too.” There is so much hope in that one sentence, it’s enough to break your heart and heal it all at once. Which brings me to the ending…
Of course, there was tragedy. We knew it was coming. Death had prepared us, even though we kept holding out hope that he was wrong, or that some sort of miracle would occur and all would be saved. Rudy’s end was especially hard to shallow. Even death had a hard time with it. “He steps on my heart. He makes me cry.” But the end also felt so hopeful and triumphant to me. Just like Max’s story. There was a strange, small man, who did a lot of damage with his words… but then there was a word shaker too. To come out of that end seemed like a powerful thing. I’m sure Liesel changed the world with her words, and that felt like a great reward.