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Book Review – “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak

    Title:  The Book Thief

Author:  Markus Zusak

ISBN:  9780375842207

Publisher:  Random House

 

Synopsis (from bn.com):

It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

 

My thoughts:  Well a huge thank you once again to my book club for introducing me to a book that I didn’t even know existed and hence would have never read without them!  My book club chose this is as our September selection and just discussed it tonight in fact.

I really enjoyed this book.  Don’t let the fact that it is technically characterized as a young adult book fool you, the topic and themes are heavy and thought-provoking.  This novel is set in Nazi Germany in 1930s – 1940s.  Liesel, a young orphan becomes intrigued with books, reading, and all that words have to offer.  The story, narrated by Death itself, follows her as she comes of age in Nazi Germany.

This is a novel about friendship, love, loss, connection, the power of words for good and evil, grief,  . . . and so much more!

It truly is a heartwarming, if not at times gut-wrenching book as it portrays quite vividly scenes from Nazi Germany!

As you are reading consider the following question/thoughts:

“How is the narrator, Death, characterized in the book?  Does it change as the book progresses?”

“Consider how much of our daily lives, thoughts, and beliefs are truly built simply on someone elses words.”

“Consider how guilt is a prevailing theme in this book.  What role does it play?

Truly an enjoyable book!

And remember,

Books Are Life,

Heather

 

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Book Review – “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy

Title:  The Road

Author:  Cormac McCarthy

ISBN:  9780307387899

Publisher:  Vintage Books

Synopsis (from bn.com):  The searing, postapocalyptic novel destined to become Cormac McCarthy’s masterpiece.A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food-—and each other.The Roadis the profoundly moving story of a journey. It boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, “each the other’s world entire,” are sustained by love. Awesome in the totality of its vision, it is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation.

Winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

My thoughts:  Well, I must say that I do not even know where to begin with this review.  My book club picked this book for our August read and I was fairly excited to read something outside of my normal cozy mystery/mystery/chick lit genre.  All I can say about this book is that I read it.  I bordered on hating this book.

It is a story of a father and son, in postapocalyptic times, walking down a road in a burnt out world looking to survive.  That is about it.  It literally describes their walk down this road, scrounging for food and supplies, on their way to the coast.  That is it.

I consider myself rather well-read and somewhat intelligent, so I was excited to feel what other reviewers clearly felt when reading this book, a beautiful description of an abiding love between a father and a son.  I must say I clearly missed this deeper, more analytic, symbolic meaning.

The cover of the book uses words such as, “vivid, eloquent”, “one of the best books of the year”.  I think not.  And frankly I am stunned that it won the Pultizer Prize.  How I ask?

The writing seems overly simplistic to me, especially in parts that are dialogue between the unnamed father and son.  It is short, quick, phrases with little punctuation so ultimately if you are not quick you have no idea who is actually speaking.  The deeper part of me realizes that somehow this style of writing in the dialogue between the father and the son are most likely symbolic of the vast, open, expansive road ahead of them, empty.  But when reading it comes off as simple, juvenile, and boring.

I found the story boring, pointless, and flat.  There was absolutely no climax, just flat and boring throughout.  Although it certainly was a very quick read, the story could have been told in about a chapter or two and the effect would have been the same.

I guess I am just not high-brow enough in my reading choices to have appreciated the underlying beauty, depth, and quality that some see in this book.  Instead of moving and profound, I found it boring and empty.  Instead of eloquent and deep, I found it simple and ridiculous.

I can’t help but to think that some of the books popularity at the time was because it was chosen as an Oprah book.  And we all know that once Oprah mentioned a book, the sheep followed along and read whatever she read and said they loved it. (Not a fan, can you tell!)

I guess I am happily now going back to my cozy mystery series, my mysteries, and my chick lit and refraining from Pulitzer Prize winners for now!

And remember,

Books Are Life,

Heather

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