I remember picking this book up in a store once or twice, reading the blurb on the back, and putting it down again. There was just something about it that didn’t appeal. Maybe I was being picky, so many people had raved about it, and the film was due out. So when it was my book club’s pick for May, I greeted it positively.
In a nutshell, it is the story of a girl, Liesel,who is fostered with a family in Monching, Hitler’s birthplace, just before world war 2. It is a finely detailed adventure through the impacts of anti-semitism, Hitler’s economic and social policies and their impact on the general population, and growing up in impoverished circumstances. I started out intrigued, and slightly wrong-footed, by the point of view, since the story is told by Death, but it focuses almost entirely on Liesel’s perspective. It’s quirky and strange, with odd interjections in bold face, explaining certain vernacular details, or providing some extra scene-setting or character information in a format like a text box.
The quirkiness lost its charm as the tale progressed, and I’m afraid I was finding it a duty to read, rather than an enjoyment. Yes, I was ‘somewhat interested’ in what happened to Liesel, but on the whole, I didn’t enjoy it, and spent many days wishing I didn’t have to read it. It became tedious. I jumped over to another book, and then another before I dragged myself back to it. But I did drag myself back to it. It had just enough fascination not to be abandoned. I can’t imagine how they made it into a film, though. I don’t intend to find out.
A unique perspective on a well-thumbed period of history.