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robtwinem

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I live in Bristol UK literary fiction and crime are my books of choice and when not reading I like to run

When Death comes calling......

The Book Thief - Markus Zusak

What makes this story unique and a novel enjoyed by both young and old is due primarily  to two outstanding elements. First, is the use of "Death" as the narrator; Death is devoid of all emotion and his role is simple that of an impartial observer and the story teller of events as they unfold. He retains no particular allegiance to those who die either as a result of actions caused by the Nazi party or bombing of the allies, he is simply there to collect souls and business is good. Equally important the story is viewed through the eyes of children. The young are totally unaware of the gathering storm and cannot appreciate the enormity of what is about to happen....but the adults know (and so do you and I dear reader) Germany has embarked on a course of annihilation, at its head a tyrannical fascist and his jackbooted  henchmen. (the innocence of children is also dramatically explored in another great novel; "The boy in stripped pajamas" when the child Bruno exchanges his clothes so he can copy  his friend Shmuel....those who have read will know what heartbreak follows) The adults understand the significance of "Kristallnacht" the night of broken glass, the persecution of the Jewish population or any individual or party who dared to stand in opposition to the Fuhrer.

 

Liesel Meminger lives with her adoptive parents Rosa and Hans Hubermann. She enjoys care free days with her friend Rudy Steiner and is besotted with Max Vandenburg who lives in the basement of the Hubermann residence..."The basement was the only place for him as far as he was concerned. Forget the cold and loneliness. He was a Jew and if there was one place he was destined to exist, it was a basement or any other such hidden venue of survival"....."Imagine smiling after a slap in the face. Then think of doing it twenty-four hours a day. That was the business of hiding a Jew"..... She collects books and loves to listen to stories recited by her friend Max and is always excited when stepdad Hans plays on his piano accordion reading magical stories into the night. But as the war comes even closer the comfort she has known and the love she cherishes begins to fade when the walls of innocence start to tumble....when Death comes calling....

 

Markus Zusak as an author has a unique poetic voice as he describes the horrific events unfolding in Nazi Germany from the mid 1930's. This is a very emotional tale with few survivors and one patiently waiting narrator....."I see their ugliness and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both. Still they have one thing that I envy. Humans, if nothing else, have the good sense to die"...."one opportunity leads directly to another, just as risk, life leads to more risk, life to more life, and death to more death"....