Welcome to Week 2 of the Online Book Club discussion of The Book Thief.
This book is definitely set up differently than any other book I've ever read. Did it take you a few chapters to get the hang of the narration? I think it took me a couple of chapters to get acclimated, but once I did, I was hooked. Wasn't it interesting that the story was narrated by Death? I don't think I have ever read a book that had that kind of narrator. Didn't you feel like having Death as the narrator made the story more heartbreaking? Death knew the destruction and sadness that was happening everywhere, not just with our characters, so I think that added a heavyness to the book. What did you think?
In this first section, we meet a lot of characters. We get to know Liesel, the Hubermanns, Rudy, and Max--did you have a favorite? I liked everyone, but I think Rudy was my favorite. I loved how he was so kind to Liesel, and I enjoyed how boisterous and energetic he was. We don't know much about Max by the end of the section, but we do know that he is a pretty sad and pathetic character. What did you think of Rosa Hubermann? I had a hard time understanding the way she showed love to others. I definitely don't have anyone in my own life that shows love and care the way she does. But, she does seem to really care for Liesel deep down. Hans is really kind and seems like a really good man. Did you look forward to learning more about any of the characters? Do you have any hopes for any of the characters as the story progresses?
I hated how the kids at school picked on Liesel when she didn't know as much as they knew. I just hate reading stories about children who are cruel to each other. I was glad that she had Rudy in her corner, and I have to admit, I liked when she beat up that boy on the playground after he kept teasing her about her inability to read.
The relationship the Hubermanns had with their son was hard to read about. It was hard because, of course, we see that Hans is right to not be a part of the Nazi party, but the son doesn't have the benefit of hindsight, so he doesn't see it that way. I can't imagine how hard it would have been to go against the status quo during those times, so it's easy to understand why the son is so frustrated that his dad just won't join the party. And, it's just so sad knowing that the last interaction they had was so unpleasant, especially since we know that the son had to go fight in Stalingrad.
Near the end of this first section, Liesel attends a book burning and ends up rescuing a book from the burning pile. It doesn't appear in the book that Liesel does this because she doesn't approve of book burning or wants to read banned literature. It seemed to me that she was just interested in reading more books. But, in real life, other people risked their lives to save books from being burned, and many more tried to explain why burning books is so incredibly dangerous for a society. If you'd like to see what a book burning looked like and want to understand why burning books is so dangerous, check out the video link below. Let me know what you think of the video after you watch it.
I hope you're excited to keep reading. Make sure to leave all of your impressions from the first section in the comments. And, make sure to read through Part 6 for next week!