After so many weeks, I finally finished my first long read for 2013. As promised, I'm blogging my own review of Markus Zusak's The Book Thief.
Before I share my own sentiments, allow me to relate how I discovered this award winning title. Before New Year's eve, one of my students highly recommended this book. The exact words she told me was, this is the book that has a heart. Before heading to the bookstore, I even read some reviews on Goodreads. I was overwhelmed by the positive reviews and its average rating of 4 out of 5 stars. I have high expectations over the book. Added to it the fact that it became a recipient of the Michael Printz's Honor Book.
After holding on to more than 500 pages of the book, I would like to say that ..... Let me put it this way... The book is like a beautiful dress that doesn't fit my body's structure. It's like everyone's delicious dish that was ironically unappreciated by my weird taste buds. Allow me to explain my contradicting thoughts about the book.
The Book Thief related the life of Liesl Meminger who was fostered by an equally poverty stricken German couple. Liesl is the Book Thief. The 13-year old girl however don't steal books for greed. She was driven by her hunger to learn and later, pursuing a passion for writing. Despite having uneducated parents, Liesl's father taught her how to read. Liesl discovered and learned the priceless happiness of reading from her Father and not from school that despised and discriminated her. In her new family, Liesl met her bestfriend, partner in crime and lover, Rudy. Much of the story narrated Liesl and Rudy's unfortunate fate of growing up during the harsh period of war. Aside from Rudy, another significant character is Max. He is a Jew. While Liesl's family is already overburdened with poverty and the threats of war, they whole-heartedly treated Max as family.
The Book Thief was well-written. I can feel that every detail of the book was well-researched as well. One thing that prevents me from fully appreciating this masterpiece, I wasn't totally moved by the story line. In my own biased opinion, the book possessed a typical story in the period of war. Liesl's story could have been the story of kids who survived the war. However, the way the story was narrated was so intense and magnificent. It compensated in this aspect. Every chapter aimed to draw a specific emotion to the reader. But plot and story wise, I can give the book an average rating.
Perhaps, my expectations was just so high. Setting aside my reluctance, here are some reasons that still made me appreciate the book.
Zusak emphasized the power of love and family. Zusak defined family more than the context of having a biological lineage. Each one of us is capable to love and treat a stranger as a family. Zusak also disproves The Full Cup Theory. For Liesl's family, poverty is not a hindrance to generosity.
The real and deep definition was friendship was also highlighted in the entire book. Rudy and Liesl who shared each other's dreams. There is also Max that Liesl loved so dearly, despite the threats he has been causing to her entire family.
I also appreciate Zusak's unique style of using Death as the story's narrator. More importantly, I value Zusak's idea of defining the image of war in the eyes of an innocent kid.
If I would give my final rating, I'll give The Book Thief 3.5 out of 5 stars. It's just unfortunate that it was a great read that wasn't for me.