The Book Thief by Markus Zuask
Summary: Nazi Germany. Liesel's mom sends her to live with a foster family. On the train ride there her little brother dies and Liesel's life will never be the same, but she has no idea the change will involve a boy with hair the color of sunshine, a boxing Jew, a man with an accordion, and a woman with a voice like thunder but a heart of gold.
Confession time. I listened to the audio book with this one as well. I tried to read it because I saw the movie and ADORED the story, but I couldn't read the book. Again, I think the only reason is because of my dyslexia. I got too lost, and it makes me sad because after hearing the book I'd love to read it.
Confession number to is I didn't listen to the end. I think everyone knows by now that Rudy died, I didn't know that when I saw the movie. I got to the end with the adorable happy scene and was melting with happiness and then, WITH NO WARNING, they are all dead. And I was crushed. I thought Rudy would make it, I could have lived with the ending then, but then he died without his kiss. Now, I get the whole, "War is sad. People died in war. Not all endings are happy..." and all that. But this was RIGHT at the end. And they ALL died. So, I decided I'd ignore that ending. As far as I'm concerned it didn't happen. Rudy lived and got his kiss. And Max still came back. I know, that is probably breaking every reader rule out there but I don't care. Rudy. Did. Not. Die. So I didn't listen to the ending, same as with the movie, I always stop it before that ending.
My confessions aside, I can move on.
I LOVED this book. I didn't think I would, but I loved it so much. Mostly because of the characters. The plot isn't edge of your seat. It's about Liesel stealing books and getting into trouble with her best friend Rudy while she tries to adjust to her new mama and papa. There were sad parts. Liesel's nightmares about her brother, the war, Hitler and the Jews, but I think this was the lightest WWII book I've ever found.
What I loved best are the characters.
I laughed so hard over Liesel's mama yelling at everyone and insulting them until everyone else picked up on it and it turned into a term of endearment. I loved her gruffness, and how one dared not mess with her family because they'd get it. I loved papa and his quietness - though sometimes he was pushed too far and would get his revenge. Together, they are one of the best married couples ever.
I even loved Liesel, she wasn't the character who kept everyone at bay and thought she was fine on her own. She was real. Scared, confused, desperate to belong somewhere. She was sweet and looked out for Max like a mother hen when he was sick. (I ADORE her and Max so much. Their brother/ sister relationship melted my heart and I squealed when she hugged him and he thought it was the best gift ever and wanted to give her something back.) I also loved Liesel's wild side, how she always seemed to be with Rudy, getting into trouble, stealing things, running around town and playing with him. Even though I insist they married, there was little romance between them in the book. They were best friends, and I loved it.
Next is a tie, because I love Rudy and Max equally, but I will do Rudy first.
There is nothing to dislike about Rudy. His belief girls adored him, the way he stood up for his partly deaf friend, how he dropped out of the Hitler's Youth, and how he would have left his family and gone away end up in the army if it meant keeping his family safe. I also loved how he adopted Liesel as his best friend, and kept using the same insulting nickname her mama used on her. Rudy has to be the sweetest friend who has ever lived. He had the courage to help those who needed him, but wasn't ever too busy to laugh at his friends when they were asking for it. Yes, I love Rudy. Everybody should love Rudy.
Last in my character list is Max. I really liked Max in the movie, I didn't think it was possible for me to love him more till I heard the book. It started with his best friend, who was a Nazi, trying so hard to save his life. Then came Max's guilt of being the only one in his family to escape, and his guilt of hiding in Liesel's basement and putting her and her family together. He broke my heart over his belief he was worth nothing because he was a Jew and he'd better off dead, and he won me over with his desire to live. Everything about him was amazing - him meeting his best friend by the two of them getting into boxing matches in the streets, his dreams of how he kept fighting Hitler when Hitler came down into the basement and found him, how hard he worked to give Liesel a gift. He was sweet, brave, the best big brother in the world, and I felt Liesel's worry when he had to leave the basement and try and get out of Germany alive.
There was a good bit of language in the book. Liesel's mama used it the most. At at one point Rudy and two other boys have to strip naked to be inspected to see if they pass to be part of Hitler's new Germany (There is a moment of detail and it gets awkward.) Because of this I'd be wary of knowing who to recommend it to. The story itself is wonderful, but those are my warnings. (If anything watch the movie. And if you're like me, and in denial over Rudy, stop it when Liesel is writing in the basement and everything is happy.) The story is also told my Death, so he gets into some awkward rants off and on, which I didn't like, but most of the time it was easy to forget he was there.
The story is painful at some parts, it's sad, but at the same time it is a reminder of life still going on even when the world was falling a part. It's a hopeful story, and I like it.