I’m frugal with my five-star ratings, but any book that can make me cry deserves all the stars.
When I first read The Book Thief at sixteen, I didn’t see what the fuss was all about. It was good, but not great. I liked the writing, the story, and enjoyed the characters well enough, but it didn’t make an impression.
This time around, the book absolutely wrecked me.
I picked it up for one of my summer grad school classes and it was love from page one. I opted for the audiobook and soaked in every minute of my daily commute. Zusak’s writing is incredible. The characters are well-formed, with realistic development and motivations. The book’s themes about the power of words and the inconsistency of humanity are so well-implemented, I can’t get them out of my head. It’s taken me a month to sit and write out this review because there’s just so much to think about.
Reading The Book Thief as an adult was also a very personal experience. I’ve recently experienced several deaths and this book helped me grieve. I finished the same day I learned one of my favorite library patrons had died and the last fifteen minutes of the audiobook had me sobbing uncontrollably on my way home from work. I was a total traffic hazard. For someone who doesn’t cry often, this kind reaction is noteworthy. I haven’t connected with a story on this visceral a level in a long time.
Overall, this is the kind of book that you can’t look away from. It’s the kind of story that haunts you for years after reading and keeps bringing you back for more. It’s the kind of story that worms its way into your being. It sounds strange, but I feel a more complete person after reading this book.