The Grown-Up YA

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Books on Tape: Because apparently I enjoy a good cry

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The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Skinny: In the midst of WWII, Liesel Meminger comes to live with the Hubermanns in a small town outside Munich, Germany. As Germany changes, so does Liesel, both adjusting to the new circumstances they find themselves in – Germany in the middle of Hitler’s power; Liesel in the middle of growing up with a new family.

Narrated by Death, this book is about the lives of those surrounding Liesel and how they change, grow, and adapt to their war torn world and the books that Liesel lines her life with.

BFF?: I would LOVE to be BFFs with Liesel. There’s something genuine and honest about her; maybe because she’s still a little girl for most of the book and isn’t yet hardened by the realities of the world she lives in. She’s funny and has this snarky attitude that I think would develop into wit and humor as she grew older. I could easily imagine my younger self getting into trouble with her, all the while smiling together. Liesel is also extremely caring and deeper than we give her credit for. She feels deeply and cares more than she lets on. 

Listen-ability: Allan Corduner is welcome to read to me any day of the week. Although I had trouble listening for very long – his voice is soothing and melodic – I could easily imagine him as Death, discussing the life of Liesel Meminger. His imitations were very well done, especially Rosa Hubermann; I often found myself laughing at his imitation of her! However, he was able to make even the most harrowing scenes soothing, comforting me as I listened. Which was really beneficial for this book.

Crush Level: 8
I know… I probably shouldn’t have a crush level with this book, but 13 year old Candice (who still comes out from time to time) developed an adorable crush on Rudy Steiner, Liesel’s best friend in the book. His adorable way of asking “how bout a kiss” made her heart flutter. Watching Rudy grow up into the young teenager who flip-flopped between acting like a BGFF and a protective love interest towards Liesel was so sweet that 13 year old Candice couldn’t help but falling for him.

Bonus Points:
Other Point of View
So as Americans, we’re pretty much ingrained with this mindset that Germans are the bad guys when it comes to WWII. There’s no sympathy for any of them and we aren’t taught to pity, or even think about, the everyday citizens of Germany. I feel like this book opened my eyes to another side of WWII Germany, one that showed the conflict of being citizens in a world where Nazi-fever was taking over the country when you don’t support the Nazis.

Books

This book would not be a book without the books that made up this book. Ha. Liesel steals her first book in a graveyard, thus starting her career of stealing books. While the books she steals aren’t really of much interest, it’s how she steals them, how her stealing affects her, that’s interesting. She gets a fever for it, needing to do it to satisfy the craving.

Death

Not death, as in dying, but Death, the person who comes around and collects souls. This was such a perfect choice for narrator, not only because of the premise of the story but because of the time in which it took place. Death mentions how during wars he is always at man’s beck and call, always busy. His descriptions of carrying souls is heart-breaking. And, who knew? Death has kind of a sense of humor.

Commencement Speech: “Sometimes you read a book so special that you want to carry it around with you for months after you’ve finished just to stay near it.” – Markus Zusak

Yes, this is how I feel about The Book Thief. Although I listened to it, I want to run out and buy it, put it in my pocket, and keep it close to me at all times. It’s funny: all during the book I was told what happens, I was warned and warned and warned again: this would not be a happy story. So naturally, when the ending neared, there was a gasp, an “Oh God no!” and tears. Endless streams of tears that started back as soon as they stopped.

Y’all, this book was THAT good. I became so attached to these characters, so in love with them, that my heart literally hurt for them and for their struggles. I wanted to rescue them and be there for them, holding their hands. These weren’t just characters in a book; they became a part of me.

And the writing, oh the writing! Zusak certainly has a way with words, of painting a scene with such imagery that I sat flabbergasted at how he managed to come up with it.

It’s been a long time that a book has affected me this much, has torn me up and made me feel so deeply for the characters and their world. This isn’t a book of sadness though; not really. It’s funny and imaginative, realistic and honest about the world, thought-provoking and changing. Truly, truly beautiful.

Yearbook Quote: “Hair the color of lemons,’” Rudy read. His fingers touched the words. “You told him about me?”

At first, Liesel could not talk. Perhaps it was the sudden bumpiness of love she felt for him. Or had she always loved him? It’s likely. Restricted as she was from speaking, she wanted him to kiss her. She wanted him to drag her hand across and pull her over. It didn’t matter where. Her mouth, her neck, her cheek. Her skin was empty for it, waiting.

Years ago, when they’d raced on a muddy field, Rudy was a hastily assembled set of bones, with a jagged, rocky smile. In the trees this afternoon, he was a giver of bread and teddy bears. He was a triple Hitler Youth athletics champion. He was her best friend. And he was a month from his death.

“Of course I told him about you,” Liesel said.”

Superlatives – Most Likely to hurt your heart while making you smile

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14 thoughts on “Books on Tape: Because apparently I enjoy a good cry

  1. This book is so amazing. I expected it to be so dark being that Death plays such a huge part in it, but Liesel affected me so deeply (as did Hans). I loved the big and small ways they found to fight and rebel against the Nazis and I loved how in the end, Death has been impacted by Liesel too. Great review!

  2. The Book Thief is just PHENOMENAL. I dare anyone to read it and not be deeply affected. And I definitely had a crush on Rudy too! How could you not?? In the print version I felt like text features and fonts played a pretty big role. I’m curious how that would translate to the audio version. Thanks for a great review that made me remember just how much I love this book :)

  3. It’s funny: all during the book I was told what happens, I was warned and warned and warned again: this would not be a happy story. So naturally, when the ending neared, there was a gasp, an “Oh God no!” and tears. Endless streams of tears that started back as soon as they stopped.

    This. So. Much.

    And Rudy. Oh my goodness Rudy. Thirteen year old Meghan also had a crush on Rudy ;A;

  4. I need to read this book ASAP. It’s been sitting on my shelf, right next to Jellicoe Road for years. (Yes. THAT LONG.) When my heart is ready, I’m diving in.

  5. I just want to sob reading this review of The Book Thief. Is it weird to not be over a book you’ve read twice? I am so glad you listened to the audio. Cordrunner does a great job with it.

    And Rudy Stiener, I still love him and his admiration of Jesse Owens and his love for Liesl.

    And Hans Hubermann, my heart hurts thinking about him.

    And sigh, tears and tears and tears. It does not get easy after re-reading, let me tell you.

    Wonderful review, Candice. You really capture the emotions that The Book Thief evokes.

  6. I’ve been meaning to read this book forever, and have heard the audio is fantastic. Glad your experience with it was a good one too. You do make this book sound incredible, and I must make it a priority to read it soon.

    • I don’t know if I’d actually ever read this book – doesn’t sound like something I would pick up to read. But I LOVED the audiobook of it. It was really long though, but worth every second!

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  9. This is one of the best books I have ever read. I just finished a huge English assessment on it at school, (my choice of books, luckily) and I was literally balling my eyes out when I read it a month or two ago.

    Your review wrapped up this book so much, it’s exactly what I felt as I read its pages! You become so attached to the characters, and then… (I’ll say no more).

    I’ve never really listened to an audio book, except for when I was really little and too young to actually read, but I might give it a go for this one. I’ve always been a reader at heart, ;).

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