If you feel like it, come with me. I will tell you a story. I'll show you something.
In six words. May I take a line from the book?
There's a Jew in my basement.
I finally finished The Book Thief on the 30th of December. It was interesting that I happened to be reading this at the end of the year. Because all year long I've been seeing how everyone and everything are all such a beautiful mess. And this book really portrayed life that way. A big, beautiful mess. It showed me a thing or two.
The style, the idea, the characters, even the formatting was so different. Refreshing.
You know, as refreshing as a book narrated by Death can be. . .
The fact that it's narrated by Death is absolute genius! Death's voice is original. Not morbid or dark, like you would first think. But dry, blunt, sometimes empty, and somehow colorless. Death is truly personified. Like he's a real person. In fact, I'm convinced he is. He's very apathetic, because what he does demands it. A few times, surprisingly, his feelings show, human feelings. And how often do you get to read Death's thoughts on life?
As a character, Death made it to the top character list. But not quite my favorite.
Rudy is hilarious. His and Liese's exploits were so much fun to read. He is audacious and ridiculous. And he gets angry so easily sometimes, but usually for good, just reasons. I loved seeing him grow up and how he turned out. And, Liesel, maybe you should've kissed him. Maybe.
But he wasn't my favorite either.
Max! I love Max, everything about him. I love his stories, his sketches, his imaginings. How he goes from being an egotistical young man to being so humble to think himself worthless. I ended up loving Max almost as much as Liesel. Almost. I'm not sure I could outdo her.
He could've been my favorite. But I'm telling you, this book has some amazing characters. Choosing a favorite is tough.
Liesel Meminger. She is so much fun to watch grow up. Falling in love with books and words when she doesn't even know what they mean. Learning to read in the middle of the night. Racing with Rudy. Stealing apples with Rudy. Trying not to feel guilt and feeling guilt anyways. Standing up to the mayor's wife's grief. Okay, I won't be like Death and tell you everything before it happens. But I loved how she describes things, how she cherishes things. How she loves. Her childlike innocence and view of the world. I loved it.
I'm sorry, Liesel, you are not my favorite either. But I think you will understand when I tell who is my favorite.
Somehow, though, and I'm sure you've met people like this, he was able to appear as merely part of the background, even if he was standing at the front of a line. He was always just there. Not noticeable. Not important or particularly valuable.
Hans Huberman is my favorite in this whole book. Because even though he is very little seen or noticed, he does things that are important. They seem like little things. But the little things are the kind things which are the brave things, the stupid things, the stand-up things, the things that matter most. He has the biggest heart in all the world. He knows what humanity is. And he leaves room for grace. He is the most loyal person, I've ever read. He doesn't try to stand out. He tries to "behave," but you can't subdue what you truly believe forever. And he is not without fault. He has those. And so he is a beautiful mess, like the rest of the characters, and all of the book. But there is something about his character. In the little things he does that matter. I want to be like that.
Plot-wise. I loved the plot. I love how the book progressed. How Death told the readers what happens next when we weren't really supposed to know yet. It created a different kind of suspense. The plot is, wow, I loved it. The writing is genius. I loved reading a book that was all about words. One of my favorite topics.
I admit, I probably could've read it faster. But for starters, the writing is good and considering the plot, it takes a while to digest the book. And to me (yes, I am weird) digesting, or contemplating, a well-written book is almost as good as reading it. And secondly, it's Nazi German, there's a Jew in their basement. So at the end, what happens? THEY'RE ALL GOING TO DIE! My subconscious made this prediction before my conscious did. I didn't exactly want to reach the end. And, no, that wasn't a spoiler. Not a complete one at least.
Basically the point of this post is:
Go read The Book Thief. The 500-something pages is worth it. It will change you some way. Promise.