After a few solid hours of reading; I finished The Book Thief. I am so glad that I have a principle of always reading a book before its film adaptation, I can already tell that the film will not be a patch on the written words.
I liked the narration from Death and the flitting back and forth from characters. Liesel is written in a way which is relatable and Zusak really makes her character grow and develop throughout the course of the book. Rudy’s storyline (whilst intertwined with Liesel’s) stands on its own two feet and he faces hardships and suffering, and as a reader I didn’t dismiss his storyline as a secondary character’s. I felt Rudy’s passion and stubbornness as he changed from a youngster into an adolescent, and his emotions were so raw and true.
I loved the relationship between Liesel and her foster father, Hans Hubermann. Also, Liesel’s relationship with Max. I think the reason I love these two relationships the most is because of the underlying reasons why the characters grew to be so intimate. Firstly, the love of books – reading, writing, learning, absorbing knowledge and wisdom. Secondly, the ability to endure hardships together. Their resilience is astounding. This second point reminds me of a belief my friend once told me, ‘Friends don’t truly become friends if it’s smooth and happy all the time.’ What this means to me is that you can never truly know someone until you’ve seen them at their worst (or in a bad place). Liesel experienced much sorrow in her youth yet she also had to bear the burden of others’ sufferings too, she saw the hurt and loss of those around her and did what she could to help.
Reading through the ending was heartbreaking. Don’t worry, there are no spoilers here! I had previously read in reviews of the book that there would be tears, and even on the back cover of the book itself various readers say it is a sad, moving book. I was unprepared for the emotions that I was to experience in the latter half of the book. The last group of chapters took me through happiness, shock, awe, surprise, sadness, heartbreak, tears and relief (not necessarily in that order). After reading the last page I closed the book and held it in my arms, closed my eyes and meditated on the words I had just read. It has been a while since a book has touched me in such a poignant way.