I confess...I typically onlypost my HarperCollins reviews here. I do review other books that I read on Amazon and Goodreads but usually leave those there. This one I wanted to share though because it stood out and has made me ponder heroism and other topics.
I finished The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I might not have ordered this book if I had seen the "Young Adult" label. I am so very glad that I didn't.
I spent a good deal of time pondering this book and I think it excels at showing an interplay between the extraordinary and the ordinary. Death narrates but not as an evil figure...he's rather ordinary despite having the job of carrying souls away from bodies. Death's not happy about his job but he isn't the cause of the end of a life...he just comes in to deal with the ending (and these are busy times for him with the war and the death camps).
Likewise, the novel's characters are ordinary citizens living in Nazi Germany before and during WWII. Most are swept along in their times, there aren't many bad people and Hitler Youth and swastikas are just part of their world...it is their normal, their ordinary...even if some recognize something is amiss. Some, including the main character and her family, show extraordinary bravery in their quiet resistance. These are truly acts of heroism, but they are (in some ways) just acts of ordinary humanity (handing bread to a hungry man, sheltering a Jewish man) that are rendered heroic by the context of their times.
The style of the novel is a bit unique, with the omniscient narration at times interrupted with short, bulletpoint thoughts or facts. The style appealed to me (a lover of lists, bulletpoints, and non-traditional stories). I saw a review that said this wasn't a quick read but I found the pages flew by fast and I was through the 550 pages in no time at all. It is, however, a story that I'll ponder for much longer than it took me to journey through the words. Strongly recommended