I wrote this in my journal a few days ago after finishing The Book Thief, and thought I would post it on here. It will be rather raw and not at all written like my usual blog post, but I will post it anyway just as it is in my journal.
December 2, 2009 10:03 P.M.
I just finished The Book Thief. It is such a gloriously, truly sad story, but at the same time it is hopeful and joyous. This must be because it is real - and by real, I do not mean that I have visited Liesel Meminger in Sydney or that she lived and breathed, but that the book is just as life is. It is a complete approximation of reality. Nothing in The Book Thief felt false to me, as though the author was lying. I have read books like this, and no matter how fun and exciting they are, the stories don't sink in. They float on the surface because they don't have what it takes to go farther.
Of course, it is as with anything - not everyone would "enjoy" this book. (I put enjoy in quotation marks because while it is not the word I mean, it is the best one I can come up with at this point in time.) There are many people who would say that The Book Thief is "too morbid" because it is narrated by Death, and these people would very likely stop reading and return the book to their library without getting halfway through.
Then there are those for whom The Book Thief is entirely too close to home. They do not need to be told this story; life has told it to them already. These people are like the German chef of the Bistro in Mammoth Springs who hates fireworks because they sound like bombs. Yes, these people probably know Liesel already, if not also Hans, Rosa, Max, Rudy, and the mayor's wife.
I wonder if this book would have been so impactful for me had I read it when it came out. Before I went to Germany and Poland and visited Auschwitz and Birkenau with the empty fields where birds still mute themselves. On the other hand, I had more recently experienced loss in 2005. But still I do not think it would have been the same. At any rate, I am sure I will read The Book Thief again and again.
"It's good to be home! Let's have a party!"
4 years ago