The Book Thief

This weekend, in the gorgeous sunshine and recovering from various birthday parties I read The Book Thief.

It is a beautiful story that just sucked me in. Set in World War Two, it is told by Death himself. (Though I guess it is never said it is a He.) It tells about Liesel a girl who comes to live with her foster parents in 1939 in Molchen Germany. It takes us through the early years of the war and in particular the events that happen in Liesel’s young life.

Death continues to comment on proceedings and puts her story into context as the all-knowing narrator. It really is a simple story, concentrating on a personal tragedy in worldwide chaos. Yet because of it’s angle and the fact that it is such a beautiful story, you almost forget the immense horror this is all set against.

A small part is about a girl who discovers book and discovers words and all the things she can do with them. First there is the struggle that turns into the pleasure of reading and writing. The reading to others, the writing initially for herself but told to us, her story to others.

The power of words.

Some people write for themselves – like I do, despite this public platform I consider it still very much for my own pleasure; some write very much for others… like a girl called Emma. Emma was a very talented girl who I got to know during my theatre course. She seemed fearless and effortless cool in that laid back Canadian way of hers. A natural beauty and a very kind soul. I did not know her very well but I had the pleasure of working with her and seeing her perform. Then of course there was her writing/ her blog, as said by her sister in the eulogy, for others, for us. She shared with us the events in her life spiced with her own sense of humour, and apparently she would often describe a day to her family as The Best Day of Her Life. It was her writing that made me smile on the days that I did not know what to do with my new graduate/unemployed status. I did not comment, but I very much smiled.

I cannot, nor do I want to, claim the intense sadness that her family and close friends must feel even now three years later. Thus I will not give a link to her page, I just wanted to give her a little shout-out: that on the anniversary of her death, she is certainly not forgotten.

As the narrator of The Book Thief states on the first page:

“You are going to die.”

But he/she/it also declares on the last pages:

” [The best souls] rise up and say ‘I know who you are and I am ready. Not that I want to go, of course, but I will come.’ ”

It seems reassuring, but also gives the reason why the best people always seem to go too soon: they might be ready but the souls left behind will have to always miss their inspiring company for the rest of our way.

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