I recently saw a cartoon strip where one character is describing a book he just read to his friend. He tells his friend how the book crushed his heart and made him cry. And yet the guy enthusiastically tells his friend that he must read the book.
That’s how I feel about Markus Zusak’s “The Book Thief”. The book had been highly recommended by some of my friends and for some inexplicable reason, I’d thought this would be a light, breezy read. Boy was I wrong!
The book is set in a little German town in the grips of World War II. Not only do the eclectic townspeople have to contend with the implications of living in Nazi Germany, but also have to come to grips that their town isn’t immune to bombings and that they must take shelter in basements.
Throw into this mix a rich array of characters: a little girl whose world has been turned upside down, an oddly loving couple, a yellow-haired boy who dreams of being an athlete like Jesse Owens, a Jewish man trying to hide from the Nazis, the mysteriously quiet wife of the Mayor. You can see why “The Book Thief” reminded me a lot of The Diary of Anne Frank.
The tale is beautiful and funny, although it does meander every now and then. But as the book nears its end, you cannot but hold back the tears. This, in spite of the narrator giving you spoilers well in advance.
Oh! Do be prepared for a surprise when you find out who the narrator is!
Title: The Book Thief
Author: Markus Zusak
First Published: 2006
Number of Pages: 552
Price: Paperback – Rs. 465/ Kindle – Rs. 284.05 (Amazon.in)
My rating: 4 out of 5
(Disclosure: If you buy the book by clicking on any of the Amazon links above, you will NOT get charged extra. However, I will get a small commission, 100% of which will go to charity.)