Friday, July 28, 2006
I just finished The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. It was amazing. It tells the story of WWII and the Holocaust from the persepctive of Death, who is touched by one young girl as he claims his souls from all around her. Many books and narratives have explored the side of the Germans and their inability to work against a system that could not be stopped, but Zusak brings a humanity and a clarity that others lack. One young girl loses her mother and brother in one day, but retains the capacity to love deeply. Liesal, that is the character's name, is an inspiring protagonist, who could fight against everything horrible, including Hitler, but she could not stand against the personified death. Zusak's imagery of death's struggle to keep up with the body counts of Hamburg and too retain some soul himself as he undertakes his enourmous task, is a point of view that one would think would be distasteful. However, the relationship between Death and his "victims" is almost as beautiful as it is sad. Although Death does not get emotional, between the blithe descriptions of the taking of lives, "his" examination of their individuality reveals an immortal's pain.