The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak.
When was the last time you read a book or saw a movie that stuck like glue in your thoughts for several days? The kind of story where you find you just can't rid your mind of the characters spirit, depth, and determination. And for some reason it touched a part of your heart and a had lasting effect on you. Well, this story did just that for me. The writing is creative, intelligent, thought provoking, both horrific and kind, a bit whimsy, there is foreshadowing, and just something I haven't come across in a long time.
The story is about Liesel, a foster child during WWII who has a love for books. Although she cannot read or write she steals her first book at her little brother's funeral. This is where we come to know the narrator. And not just any narrator, he is Death, or otherwise known as the Grim Reaper. I know, sounds morbid. But it's really not. Death's first encounter with Liesel is here at her brother's funeral. One of my favorite lines in the book by Death is about human nature, "So much good, so much evil, just add water." Just so clever.
Liesel never knew her father. After her little brother's funeral, her mother disappears and she goes to live with Hans and Rosa her foster parents. Her foster father is a gentle soul and very kind to her. He teaches her how to read and write. But her love for books and the stories inside them are brought to life by Max, the Jewish refugee they are hiding in their basement. Who Liesel becomes to love like a brother.
He teaches her the importance of words. How to see them, describe them, and feel them. To be imaginative. Everyday she comes home from school, he asks her to tell tales with imagery about her day and what she saw. As a Christmas gift, he paints over the pages of Hitler's book "Mein Kamph." Blank pages for her to write her story. Which at the end, we find is the book Death has been narrating.
Anyway, there is so much to say about this book and movie. So many other important characters and story lines, such as abandonment, guilt, perceived cowardliness, and humanity that are critical to the story. Just one of the many things, and definitely not the moral of the story, I came away with is that she had three mother's in her life: her birth mother, foster mother, and the woman that befriended her with the books she let read and later steal, or as Liesel would say borrow. This woman, through horrific circumstance came to be her final mother. Love knows no boundaries.