I spent the past few days curled up in a corner of my bed reading this book. It was a long story, numbering over 500 pages, divided into ten parts.
The story was magical; it transported me from a bustling 21st century globalised city where I live to the backward, suburban Molching neighborhood in Nazi Germany, where a young girl, Liesl Meminger resided with her foster parents Hans and Rosa Huberman.
The story told of the life of a little German girl (who of course, could be the life of any other girl) growing up in Nazi Germany, at a time when prejudicial sentiments were strong, and when people were becoming increasingly anti-Jew under Fuhrer Hitler’s increasingly satanical rule. It illustrated Liesl’s struggles as she comes to terms with Nazi ideologies, her love and feelings of affection for the imperfect people around her, her fascination and recognition of the power of the written word to change her world and protect her sanity in harsh times, and the loss of her loved ones torn away from her by the war.
Her story was narrated in a rather quirky manner, by Mr Death (as I shall now address him – even though I have no inkling on the gender), who seemed to take a curious interest at this innocent girl (innocent save for her penchant for stealing books, due to her love for reading), and who would, at odd intervals, highlight certain key ideas (idiosyncratically chosen, I guess) in asterisks and bold.
The story was narrated in such a vivid and realistic manner it reads like some of the other memoirs on World War II that I’ve read, namely The Endless Steppe, and Anne Frank’s diary (regretfully I only ever remember reading these two). I suppose it’s a work of fiction, but who knows, it could have been the life a little girl then, who may or may not have survived to tell the tale. It makes me question once again how one mortal man could have possibly driven an entire nation to strive for something as irrational and inhumane as labelling a particular race as “fundamentally flawed” and then proceeding to exterminate countless numbers of innocent souls in the process. It also makes me wonder how many other innocent men & women who called themselves Germans but who did not subscribe to the deranged ideologies of their ruler perished as a result of the war. These would have been nameless, faceless people today, blotted out of the earth as if they did not live before. And I guess this book in a way gives them a voice by retelling a story that could very well likely be similar to their own.
Anyway, this story has been made into a movie of the same title, and I’m curious how it turns out. I suppose I would recommend, as other book lovers most likely would, that it would be better to read the book first before catching the movie. Because I seriously doubt it’d be possible for a visual film to depict what has been so beautifully captured in the pages of this book.