Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2012 12:55:47 AM
I first read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak in the summer before ninth grade. I had been expecting lame books because I was headed to a public school from a private school (my summer reading for my old school had included Homer’s Iliad…for sixth graders), but boy was I surprised.
The cover is what first caught my eye. I had been looking over the summer reading list and walking through Barnes and Nobles when I saw one of my requirements. It was titled The Book Thief and it had a line of dominoes on the front cover. I was immediately taken in. - Is it a book about a person who steals books or about dominoes? What went through the authors mind when he put on dominoes on the front? - There were so many unanswered questions, so I just had to investigate.
I bought the book and proceeded to lock myself in my room until I had finished reading it. I did not expect the first few lines-
a mountain range of rubble
in which our narrator introduces:
himself - the colors - and the book thief”
-this was shortly followed by the first chapter which began-
“DEATH AND CHOCOLATE
First the colors.
Then the humans.
That’s usually how I see things.
Or at least, how I try.
*** HERE IS A SMALL FACT ***
You are going to die.”
Those first forty-nine words changed my life forever. They captured me and made me their own. They pulled me into a story that I will never be able to forget, no matter how much I may want to.
I have a distinct connection to the holocaust. My Grandfather fought in World War II (for the Allies) and my family is German. Though they immigrated to the US long before Hitler, I have always felt responsible for that horrible massacre. When we studied the holocaust in school, I was called Nazi (because of my blonde hair and blue eyes), and I took that to heart. I became obsessed with proving that I wasn’t what they said I was, even if they said it in jest.
This book tore into my reality, ripped out my soul and put it on display. By the end of the book, I was so choked up that I could barely breathe and my eyes were too full to read more than a sentence a minute. I ended up going through an entire tissue box.
The Book Thief was the first book that made me cry more than a single tear. It was the first “history” book that really got down to the nitty-gritty of the war. It was the first time anyone could actually be a part of the holocaust. It rivaled even The Diary of Anne Frank. I have never found, nor will I ever find, a book that matches the reality exhibited in The Book Thief.