Tuesday, March 11, 2014


 by Markus Zusak

DON'T read this if you haven't read the book or seen the movie.  I don't want to spoil it for anyone.

Within the first few pages, when I realized that "Death" was the narrator, I was hooked. What an interesting approach to the Holocaust. I have witnessed death up close and personal three times. First as I held my infant son and then as I walked my father and later my mother to it's door.  I am not afraid of death, but the look of it always disturbs me. In that moment the body is just a shell. It is always sad... so when Death describes Rudy's passing, it tore my heart out.

"On many counts, taking a boy like Rudy was robbery—so much life, so much to live for—yet somehow, I’m certain he would have loved to see the frightening rubble and the swelling of the sky on the night he passed away. He’d have cried and turned and smiled if only he could have seen the book thief on her hands and knees, next to his decimated body. He’d have been glad to witness her kissing his dusty, bomb-hit lips."

"Death just has a job to do... even Death has a heart."

I loved the characters in this book, especially the sweet relationship between Liesel and her papa and the conflicted relationship of Hans and Rosa Hubermann... there was so much more than what appeared on the surface. Love sometimes has a strange way of manifesting itself. It was touching that the mayor's wife, in her pain, was actually allowing Liesel her thievery and of course it was sad that Rudy and Liesel never got the time for their romance to blossom.. But isn't that the way life is? We shouldn't put things off.

It was about 2:00 AM when I finished the book. I cried of course, as Death did his job. I thought it was poignant that they were taken in their sleep, no fear, no pain... whisked away in the night.  But more than that I was angry. I got out of bed and threw the book in the garbage. My reaction surprised me. I knew, going in, that this book would have a sad ending so why was I so upset? I couldn't put my finger on it.

Then... about two weeks later, after I had retrieved my copy of the book, and was thinking about something completely different, the answer suddenly bubbled to the surface...

It doesn't matter that Death has a heart or that he has a job to do.  It doesn't matter that he gently lifts our spirits upward and that the sheer numbers of people dying was exhausting to him. He is no respecter of persons and he's coming for us all.  We don't know when and we don't know how but we do know he will come. I guess as I tossed the book I was saying...

"Not yet, not now. I plan to dance in the rain a few more times."

THE BOOK THIEF... the movie

It is not often that a movie is as good as the book.  This one comes close. We trade the richness of Zusak's writing for the depth of character in the actor's portrayals.  I can not pick a favorite. I gasped when I first saw Rudy... what a beautiful boy and Liesel's eyes, they spoke without words. Hans was the grounding force but Rosa was his perfect counterpoint. I'm sure I will watch this again and again. It is destined to be a CLASSIC.