A masterpiece by Markus Zusak . A historical fiction written with such a lot of heart that its difficult to stay unmoved . I absolutely loved it . It’s not a book that should be read in a single night, though it can be . It’s to be read slowly, savoured to say .
The narrator in this book is Death . The one whose visits are normally unwelcome yet inevitable . Who is burdened with not just the souls who died old and young , early and late , but also with their last thoughts . The beauty is in the heart that Death displays . Of how Death himself is haunted by the terrible deeds of humans
“War, he complains, is like having a new boss who expects the impossible, constantly nagging “Get it done, get it done.” In 1942, he can hardly keep up. “Forget the scythe, God damn it, I needed a broom or a mop.”
“For me, the sky was the colour of Jews,” he says. No point in seeking explanations. “God never says anything. You think you’re the only one he never answers?”
“People observe the colors of a day only at its beginnings and ends, but to me it’s quite clear that a day merges through a multitude of shades and intonations with each passing moment. A single hour can consist of thousands of different colors. Waxy yellows, cloud-spot blues. Murky darkness. In my line of work, I make it a point to notice them.”
In 1939, just as the anti-semitic sentiment is gaining frenzy , nine-year-old Liesel is being taken to live with foster parents in Molching, a town outside Munich on the road to Dachau. Liesel’s parents are communists. Liesel’s small brother dies on the train journey and Liesel becomes the survivor, “an expert at being left behind”. Leisel’s character is built as a strong ,doughty one . One who shows inviolable hope in the face of penury , war and destruction. The relationships Leisel builds are well drawn . With lemon-haired Rudy who is her confidant , with the gentle Papa and the Foul-mouthed Rosa , with Max . The minutiae of a war-wrenched Germany with bombings , book burnings ,food shortages is complete .
I have been to Dachau .It was one of the first ever concentration camps . And I am still hauntedby what I saw there . Because of that reason this book is special . Special in a way because it brings out the other side of a much-told story . So when papa takes in Max , hides him in their basement for 2 years and Rosa nurses him back to health and Leisel reads to him,it is still a triumph .
In these unexpected little acts of kindness lie the salvation and reminders of our fragile humanity .
The writing is very fresh and different . The book is told in a stage –play sort of a fashion .The prose is brilliant and evocative .
“The sun –looks like a pat of softened butter-melting –into a warm ,creamy mashed –potatoes cloud-in the middle of a bottomless powder-blue bowl”
I read the below in Guardian on Markus Zusak .
“ Zusak, an Australian author, has said that writing the book was inspired by two real-life events related to him by his German parents: the bombing of Munich, and a teenage boy offering bread to an emaciated Jew being marched through the streets, ending with both boy and Jewish prisoner being whipped by a soldier.”
Zusak has combined these events with masterful storytelling that is at once heart warming yet tragic and thought-provoking . As I said in the beginning this is a masterpiece to be read again and again . Absolutely brilliant .
This Post contains affiliate links .if you make a purchase through this link I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks so much for your support.