Book Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book ThiefThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This novel is well-written with a unique and creative style. Overall, I’m glad I read this story, but it did not go down easily for me.

I found myself constantly stopping and setting it aside. Then I’d come back to it, because I knew I should, because my students wanted me to finish it, or maybe I couldn’t help myself? Sometimes I’d read whole chapters before I set it aside, sometimes only pages, sometimes paragraphs, and a few times no more than a sentence or two. Please forgive this horrifically worded explanation of what happened to me with this novel, because right now I have no better words: I couldn’t quit stopping.

It was not a story that propelled me forward, yet I’m glad I finished it. It was not a story that made me laugh out loud or even cry, but that was not for a lack of humorous, heartwarming, or tragic moments. It tugged gently at my heart, over and over again, but I would not submit to it.

Whatever the cause for my standoffish behavior towards this novel, be it me, be it the story itself, be it the topic, what this book did best was weigh heavily on me, so much so that I often wanted to just shrug it off and push it away, only to find that I could not.

This is possibly the most confusing book review ever written, because what I feel for this story is conflicted on so many levels. I greatly admire the writing and the concept. I wanted to love the book and clutch it to my chest, but instead, I find myself holding it carefully away from myself, lest too many of the words slip inside me where I’m not sure they would be welcome.

In the end, I have given it 4 stars, because any novel that makes me think so much, feel so much frustration, and lose so many coherent word has clearly had some sort of strong impact on me and therefore deserves better than a “liked it” status. I fully intended to love it, and I had brief flashes of adoration and deep affection, though I guess the same could be said of most failed relationships. In this case, it would probably be true if I said to this novel: It’s not you. It’s me.

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