The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.
Alfred A. Knopf/Random House: NY, 2006.
Originally published by Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Limited: Australia, 2005.

The Book Thief is the story of a foster child living near Munich, Germany during WWII. In one of the poorest families, she grabs as many soul-nourishing moments as possible. Books become some of her most valued memories. Stealing the books becomes a habit as a couple are thrown into her path and one is given to her by the mayor's wife. She learns to read by pouring over these books, and she learns to comfort those in desperate need through reading. Liesel's life touches so many of the issues of the Holocaust-the strict political discipline of the Germans, the treatment of the Jews, the propaganda, the burning of books and attacking of detractors, the training of the youth, the hiding of Jews and other acts of kindness, the fear of those who disobey and those who comply, and the war itself.

Though the tone is dark, it is beautiful in moments. As with most books of this topic, it is a story begging to be told with its own nuances, its own angles. It is about the power of words: to teach, to comfort, to heal, to anger and destroy-and to release.

On a side note, I wonder if the reason there are so many books related to this subject is that we are all still struggling with the horror of the Holocaust of WWII. We want an explanation-whether we are Jewish or not-and there is no satisfactory answer. Maybe also because the hatred and killing that continue in the world, in order to gain an advantage, are a constant reminder.

related-History of Germany, 1930s, 1940s, books and reading, storytelling death, Jews, World War II, rescue, family, friendship, love

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