This was another beautiful Holocaust story. I like the relationships between each of the characters: the stepmother giving the children German names to ensure their survival, Magda taking them in, Nelka’s care and Telek’s protection, the father’s love for his children, the stepmother’s ultimate sacrifice to protect her stepdaughter, Hansel’s need to act like a big brother to his older sister. All these things gave meaning to the story. I really liked the ending. Having found bread crumbs on the ground, Hansel thought back to when Magda had told him he was a fool for throwing away his bread,as he had just thrown his luck away. Although at that time, he had left breadcrumbs on the forest floor to make sure they could go back home again; but when he realized what he had done, he was mortified. Bread was not something you threw away! So at the end of the book, when Hansel found bread crumbs all over the soup kitchen, he followed it picking up each and every bit as he was determined that he would gather all the luck he had thrown away. The crumbs led him to his father who was helping out in the kitchen. So ultimately, Hansel had followed the breadcrumbs back home. 🙂
“There is much to love, and that love is what we are left with. When the bombs stop dropping, and the camps fall back to the earth and decay, and we are done killing each other, that is what we must hold. We can never let the world take our memories of love away, and if there are no memories, we must invent love all over again.”
― Louise Murphy,
I picked the book up as I waited for the student I agreed to tutor at the library. The Book Thief, I whispered to myself. It sounded interesting. Another Holocaust book. For some reason, I like reading books about the Holocaust. They are sad and heartbreaking but they also provide another side to the story. Last summer, I read The Boy in Stiped Pajamas and it was told in the viewpoint of a nine year old Nazi boy. The story was both wonderful and heartbreaking. I cried at the end. But that’s something I know that will always happen. Holocaust stories almost never have a happy ending no matter which side the story is from.
I liked the way The Book Thief was written. The narrator of this book is Death and that in itself is so intriguing. Many times, the words are just so beautiful and poetic that I can’t help but post some excerpts here:
Death is poetic.
“So many humans.
So many colours.
They keep triggering inside me. They harass my memory. I see them tall in their heaps, all mounted on top of each other. There is air like plastic, a horizon like setting glue. There are skies manufactured by people, punctured and leaking, and there are soft, coal-coloured clouds, beating, like black hearts.
There is death.
Making his way through all of it.
On the surface: unflappable, unwavering.
Below: unnerved, untied, and undone.”
Death feels emotions (o_O)… that’s a whole different perspective.
“I carried him softly through the broken street with one salty eye and a heavy, deathly heart. With him I tried a little harder. I watched the contents of his soul for a moment and saw a black-painted boy calling the name Jesse Owens as he ran through an imaginary tape. I saw him hip-deep in some icy water, chasing a book, and I saw a boy lying in bed, imagining how a kiss would taste from his glorious next-door neighbor. He does something to me, that boy. Every time. It’s his only detriment. He steps on my heart. He makes me cry.”
Death sees colors. Way more than we do.
“People observe the colors of a day only at its beginnings and ends, but to me it’s quite clear that a day merges through a multitude of shades and intonations with each passing moment. A single hour can consist of thousands of different colors. Waxy yellows, cloud-spot blues. Murky darkness. In my line of work, I make it a point to notice them.”
Death fears us.
“I am haunted by humans.”
And I think that this is one of my favorite parts of the book:
“As the sky began to charcoal toward light, we both moved on. We both observed the boy as he reached into his toolbox again and searched through some picture frames to pull out a small, stuffed yellow toy.
Carefully, he climbed to the dying man.
He placed the smiling teddy bear cautiously onto the pilot’s shoulder. The tip of its ear touched his throat.
The dying man breathed it in. He spoke. In English, he said, Thank you. His straight-line cuts opened as he spoke, and a small drop of blood rolled crookedly down his throat.”
This book was a phenomenal read. The words were just beautifully written. It’s something I wouldn’t mind reading over again. I like the sound the words make when I read them aloud in my mind. In short, I’ve fallen for this book. I love the words. The poetry. Papa and his accordion. And I have most definitely fallen in love with Rudy Steiner.