There seems to be a theme in my reading right now: books about World War II that make me cry.
This isn’t normal for me. War, especially WWII, is one of those topics I have a hard time thinking about. It’s just such a big, difficult thing, with so many sides to it… I find it much easier to read about personal tragedies than trying to wrap my brain around such a massive, generational thing.
But The Book Thief is worth pushing out of my literary comfort zone. I do love reading about books and readers, and The Book Thief is certainly about that. It is a story in which words save people’s lies, both metaphorically and literally, though it is also a story in which words are used to condemn and destroy. It is a complex story, as good YA should be.
I don’t actually want to tell you anything about The Book Thief. I opened its covers knowing very little about it — I hadn’t even read the back cover, only had it recommended to me by friends and authors and ex-girlfriends and movie commercials — and I suspect that might be the ideal way to experience this story.
I’m glad I was home alone as I read this book, because I was free to sob in peace. And sob I did — the ending is heart wrenching, in the best way. The Book Thief denies you the happy ending, the neat, wrapped up sense of closure you might be used to in YA writing. Instead, it is both beautiful and terrible, “so ugly and so glorious”, as the narrator himself asks. It is an ending that will haunt you, but it’s a haunting you should want to experience.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go wash my tear-stained face and go play some violent video games for a while.
Book Count: 2