I finished The Book Thief over the weekend. All annoyances I had with the page number typeface melted. This book is quite simply both stunningly beautiful and terrible. Marcus Zusak is a word master - so fitting since much of the book centers on Liesel Meminger's (the book thief's)love of words. The story takes place in Nazi Germany in the early 1940's, so, obviously we are introduced to the very worst in human nature. Nevertheless, Zusak does not allow us to despair. The beauty in the human spirit is revealed as counterpoint. For the first time that I can remember, I cried because of a book. The kind of crying that makes it hard to breathe. Anyone who picks up The Book Thief should know that it starts off slowly; but, within 50 pages I was captured. My additional advice would be to have something very light and funny to read afterwards, if you can conentrate on anything else for awhile. I picked up The Mother Tongue: English And How It Got That Way by Bill Bryson (a very witty, slim volume about a fascinating subject.) Even so, I could not remain engaged in it. Instead, I went outside for a walk, trying to clear my thoughts and ease my sadness. Still haunted by The Book Thief, I returned home and involved myself in a form of therapy that usually works for me. I made three batches of soup: Cheddar Corn Chowder, 15 Bean, and Beef Vegetable. As much as I loved the book, I wanted to keep any thought of it out of my dreams on Saturday night. I pretty much succeeded...but not entirely. I dreamt that a line of people arrived at my front door; the line continued down my curvy walkway, onto the road, and (although I could no longer see the people) I instinctively knew they continued all the way to the bridge over the Wilmington River. Each of them carried a bowl; I stood at my front door ladling soup.
Masterpiece is sometimes a term flung about without too much thought. This book might qualify, however. Although it is designated as a novel for Young Adults, it is really ageless and should not be missed.