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The Book Thief for...Peace

book cover image-The Book Thief

For some reason I did not particularly want to read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I decided to do so just to see why it was so popular.

Unfortunately, I could not even get through a few pages. So, I changed the format and started to listen to the book. That was even worse. I didn’t like the narrator’s voice and interpretation (well...just a personal preference). But I listened to it anyway. Slowly it caught my interest. And finally I knew….

Finally I realized that my resistance likely stemmed from a saturation of WWII stories. However, all the stories I had read, listened to, learned, were stories from the victim's point of view ….

From the people whose country was invaded by Germans in 1939. The Book Thief shows the war from a different perspective - the one of the German civilians, people who suffered the same, as those in invaded countries.

Zusak is telling a story from a life of a girl. It is an account of the day to day life of a child who has to cope with losing family, adapting to foster parents, suffering poverty, hunger, and learning some deadly war secrets; like…. sheltering a Jew. But, it is also the story of the day to day life of a child who learns to read and to love books, plays with her friends, lives through her everyday little joys and misfortunes…

I came to realize why this is a popular book and why people like it so. It is not a war story. It is a story of an individual who happened to live during a time of war. War and its statistics do not get to peoples’ hearts. Individual tragedies do. War shown through the eyes of a girl, who in one minute loses her family, her friends, her world (even if it was not a perfect world) leaves an imprint on the minds and hearts of people.

This is a book everyone may enjoy and learn from - perhaps we could even experience more compassion and less violence in the world by promoting stories like this one?