The daughter picked up this book, Book Thief by Markus Zusak, towards the end of her school year and read it as part of her summer reading. She is quite the bookworm if left alone, though unfortunately, school work and her activities do not allow her as much time to curl with a book as she’d like. I can absolutely relate to the feeling.
However, one encouraging and habit forming part of the county’s curriculum is to read a book and review it. It actually counts towards the grade. How well you read, understand and perhaps enjoy the book translates into a document that will either impress the teacher or not and award the final grade. This could very well be of huge importance in the grand scale of the rat race we belong to. Sometimes more than one kid would read a book. In that case, it becomes subjective. The graded’s opinion and the grader’s decision. When such challenges are presented right from 5th, 6th grades on, children tend to get quite good at it. If not anything, our of sheer practice of knowing that their opinion is judged, makes them not only wary readers, but attentive ones too. Now imagine doing this sort of thing through childhood; through the formative years, when a person’s habits and persona can be molded. A habit as that, can only be rewarding in many ways.
If the children take this seriously enough, they ultimately become avid readers, sharp critics most definitely thoughtful, detail oriented writers. [I am filled with envy as I write this. Then again, I live vicariously through them.] While the daughter read this book, she’d squeal occasionally, or come downstairs with a dazed look on her face. On shaking her out of the reverie she’d exclaim “Oh Mom, you have GOT to read this book. It’s so cool!” She even went to the extent of suggesting her brother to read. That is a wonder in itself.
She renewed the book for me. Insisted every few days that I should start on it. Chiding me, scolding me and one Sunday afternoon berated me, before returning it to the library. I sincerely had made an effort. I managed 4 pages. 3 weeks flew by. Strange? It’s not the usual “no time” reason/excuse. I can explain, if you let me.
I love books. Unfortunately, some books just don’t love me. (..contrary to what I had earlier written here about books not having feelings!) It’s like they have a mood of their own, a mind even. There have been some classics, some really fine pieces of literature that I have diligently given my best, in terms of time, interest and focus. Yet, they evade me. Then when I give up all hope and turn my attention elsewhere, they creep back on me. Like the shadows in the mountainside. While you are admiring the sunset, there they steal in behind you, and before you know it, envelop you in their inky depth.
School started last month, and she wrote this review for the English class to be graded. She got an A. Mighty proud she was of it too, explaining that she was the only one who wrote it as a book review (as opposed to a book report), sustaining a mystery to the reader, and clearly the one who didn’t start with a sentence “Over my summer holidays, I read… ” .
Here is her review. She’d left it on the screen after working on it, and I happened to read it. It’s made me check the book out again, and this time the book loves me! I hope it feels the same way for you too.
ps: Please bear in mind that this was written by a 13 year old, who is still a child in very many ways. The review may not be the kind that you’d read as adults, but hey, she’s mine and I occasionally play the role of a proud mommy to the hilt!
“… It was raining on Himmel Street when the world ended for Liesel Meminger. The sky was dripping. Like a tap that a child has tried it’s hardest to turn off but hasn’t quite managed.” Page 497
The book in which this moving quote was taken from is The Book Thief. Written by Markus Zusak, this book informed the readers about a new perspective of World War II. This novel was set in Munich, Germany during WWII, under Nazi control. Categorized as a ‘historical fiction’ novel, this book takes you through the years of a young girl fearing the same fear as the young girl living in America during this time. It sounds interesting doesn’t it? For one thing, it’s the exact reason I chose to read this 592-page book.
A young girl residing in Germany, when 1/3 of the world is fighting against you. Whose life could that possibly be? Liesel Meminger’s of course. This orphaned child is the main character of the book. Liesel is also the book thief, because of her instinct to ‘borrow’ these books ‘secretly’. As she goes through her life, she meets friends that stay with her as long as death will allow them. Including her best friend, Rudy Steiner, who ends up being her stealing partner. Rudy finds that Liesel is the only child who can compete with him in anything. Unfortunately, Liesel finds herself lying to her best friend in order to keep one man safe. Max Vandenberg. Max is a runaway Jew, hiding from every corner of the country. Luckily, one of his departed dad’s friends was nice enough to take him in for a while. He and Liesel soon grow to be very strong friends. But who was the nice man to take this homeless Jew in? It was Liesel’s foster father, Hans Hubermann. Hans, the most caring character in the book, shelters Max in his basement, and educates Liesel as much as he can. Everything Liesel knows about reading is thanks to him.
War. This is what the book was truly about. The entire conflict revolved around that one word. There were bombs, shelters, destroyed buildings, and lots of souls flying everywhere. Throughout the story, the entire city of Munich undergoes ‘bomb drills’ except for the fact that on one occasion, the city is warned too late. The climax of the story is built up from these bomb drills. During the last 10 or so pages, though, is when it finally takes action. All I will say is that, Liesel Meminger is the one soul in Munich, that hasn’t been taken away. Unfortunately there was nothing to do about it. Instead, she just goes back to where she started.
This book was a very emotional novel. To me, it was all about friendship. This entire book was about sticking together. At first, there was Liesel and Rudy. In this story, without each other the title wouldn’t have made sense. Liesel would have never been able to steal all the books without Rudy’s help. Secondly, there is Liesel, Hans, and Max. If Liesel and Hans had decided to betray Max, then he would have been out of the story, in the beginning itself. Also, Liesel and Max. When Max was kidnapped, there was no way that Liesel would have jumped out into the line to try to talk to him, if she wasn’t friends with him, even though she was beat ferociously. Then there was Liesel and Hans. If those two hadn’t gotten it together, Liesel would still be wetting her bed, and also have no reason to steal books, since she can’t read. Without friendship the story truly wouldn’t have gotten anywhere.
Though this book may seem sad and depressing, it is one of my favorite books of all time. For once, a novel doesn’t end with a ‘happily ever after’ instead, it does with a more thoughtful ending. This novel also grabs my interest because, in History, we learned about the War, from the Allies point of view. This time, readers received a different point of view and realized that the citizens of those cities feared just as much as we did of what was going to happen. Anyone who enjoys history, a little suspense, and some laughter will definitely enjoy this story.
Even if you don’t, once you read this book, I will guarantee that a few opinions will change.