Human mortality results in the potential loss of one’s story of triumph and resilience through life’s hardships. Thankfully, several of these tales have been adapted and preserved in novels. Set in Nazi Germany in the years 1939-1942, Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief bewilders readers with the story of young Liesel Meminger, a foster child living outside of Munich who finds relief from her traumatic life by possessing books and befriending a Jew seeking shelter. What distinguishes this novel from others written about the Holocaust is Zusak’s choice of narrator, Death. The characterization given to Death does not fit the general stereotype of a detached, cold figure; instead Death is portrayed as an overworked employee burdened by his work. Interestingly, he seems almost human as he feels emotion and sympathizes with the growing number of souls he encounters. Time-worn, Death’s tone is very blunt as he provides insight on the human race, which he has observed since the beginning of time. His narration of a tragic yet triumphant story captivates readers with an unforgettable tale of a young girl and her loved ones during a truly dark period of German history.
The Book Thief has recently been released as a motion picture. The trailer for the film can be found below: