For my first book recommendation on this blog, I’ve chosen to encourage anyone who hasn’t read it yet to check out The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. The book group Lorri and I belong to read this a few months ago, and it has stayed with me and inspired me in certain areas ever since. It’s marketed as young adult fiction and I can see it being enjoyed by that age group, but it’s even more powerful, I think, for adults. It is also quite long for YA fiction, but I promise it reads pretty darn fast. (Very short chapters and lots of interrupters that make for quite a bit of white space—not dense text at all.)
The Book Thief is set in Nazi Germany during WWII and follows the life of a young girl, Liesel Meminger, who as he goes about doing his grisly duties catches the attention of Death, the Grim Reaper, who narrates the book and is one of its most intriguing characters. At first, Death’s voice as narrator is a bit disconcerting but you get used to it and end up really liking it—I did anyway. And the book has a very unusual style in that Death is constantly interrupting the story to offer quick facts that frame something coming up or foreshadowing things to come. As a result, in many ways you know a lot about what’s coming up in the story, but when you actually get to those points that he has foreshadowed you’re usually glad you have been prepared somewhat for them (at least for the sad parts he lets you know will eventually come up). But then when you’re there at those places, the scenes are so rich and moving and terrible and triumphant that you really didn’t know what was coming. And in all of it the characters are completely fascinating and wonderful—constantly unfolding before your eyes in ways that are very satisfying.
I won’t say much more, but when/if any of you read this book, I want to discuss it with you big time! I’m blown away for my own life and goals by the idea Zusak unfolds of “the word shaker” and the love conveyed in the story of the "stand-over man" (both the story itself and all that goes into creating it). Also by the complete and utter love for books and music and simple pleasures that this novel and these characters exude.
I really think whoever tries this book will really, really like it. I'd give it 5 stars wright now but I think a designation of "a Wright classic!" has to come from acclamation from a group of Wrights not just something I can declare.