This book is a great lesson about love and charity. Those are not only the ones we must practice in our daily life, but the rare gifts that a few persons met in a harsh historical time, such as the one of the Second World War. I am talking about The Book Thief, one the most poignant and heartfelt novels of our contemporary age. I read the Italian edition of the novel, written by Markus Zusak, translated into Italian by Gian M. Giughese and released in Italy by Frassinelli publisher, with the title Storia di una ladra di libri. The Twentieth Century Fox has also made a great movie from this great and touching story. The Book Thief, is a novel talking about books and generosity, but it is also a narration told through the sinister voice of the death. Yes, it is just the death the main character of the book, a first person voice describing all it sees in the various chapters of the novel. As I said, the background is the early stage of the Second world war. We are in the late 1930s in Germany, during the Nazism, and the government of Adolf Hitler.
The Fuhrer issued racial laws against the Jews, forced to abandon their house and workplace and expelled from any public roles in the name of the Nazi madness. In this critical background, the author wrote the story of a little girl who endures the death of her little brother. The book opens with the first poignant description, Liesel Meminger , a little girl aboard the train along with her mother and her dying little brother. They are escaping, maybe due to political reasons or misery and starvation. During the journey toward the new family who has to adopt these two siblings, the brother dies and is buried in a small cemetery. During the burying, the little girl notices a book on the ground. That is the sepulture manual lost by one of the keepers at the cemetery.
Unfortunately, in the Nazi Germany, in 1939, there was no time for grief and tears, but only to survive. The true mother of Liesel delivers the little girl to a couple of Germans, namely Hans and Rosa Hermann. The husband is a very kind and honest German. He was forced to join the Nazi Party, but he despises Hitler and Nazism. The wife, Rosa, works at the houses of wealthy German people as a laundry attendant. At the beginning of the relationship with Liesel, Rosa appears to be as an uncaring and bossy mother. She always complains about the harshness of life and the indifference of customers, but at last, she and his husband will turn into extraordinary examples of generosity and love. Hans teaches Liesel to read and write, starting just from the book that the little girl found at the cemetery, Rosa, instead, after treated the little girl badly, helps the husband to take care about an escaping Jewish, by hiding him in the basement of their home.
This Jew is the son of a former soldier with whom Hans fought during the First World War. The former soldier died to save Hans and the latter promised who would have returned the favour, a day. The day arrives and Hans with his wife accept to save the dead soldier’s son from the Nazi persecution. In these chapters, always told in first person by the death, there are the most beautiful pages of contemporary literature. Each chapter is a great lesson of life, a great example of love and charity, with a clear and well highlighted message: even during a cruel and gloomy time, it is always possible loving and helping others.
The title of the novel, The Book Thief, is related to the little girl, Liesel, who, after learning reading, steals books from the homes of German people where she helps the adoptive mother to wash clothes. The little girl did a good deed, because the Nazis ripped and burned books and newspapers during the Second World War. They aimed to destroy culture and the best of human beings. The book thief, Liesel, instead, saved the fundamental proof of our humanity: books. The author, instead, proved that every moment is always helpful to love and help us each other. Charity must never be put aside, not even in the worst moments of the human history. Obviously, my rating is five stars. Further comments and explanations are unnecessary at this point.