My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Genre: Young Adult, Historical, WWII
Liesel Meminger is placed in a foster home when her parents are arrested for being Communists. She feels lost and afraid, but quickly bonds with her new foster father, “Papa.” He is an accordion-playing ex-soldier who teaches Liesel to read. Papa is anything but an enthusiastic Nazi supporter. Although they fly their Nazi flag, they are under constant suspicion from their neighbors for not being “Nazi” enough. Despite the danger, Papa and Mama choose to take in a Jewish man. Liesel continues to learn the magic of books, while navigating her new life in a strange and scary time.
What an amazing, powerful book this is. Really. My description tells you part of what happens in the book, but I can’t tell you how this book feels. The emotions are deep, raw, and biting.
This book even made me cry. And being part-Vulcan, crying in books is not something that happens regularly for me.
(Just kidding. I’m not really half-Vulcan. You needed me to clear that up, right?)
Okay. Moving on.
On the wall in the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, CA, there is a banner that says something to the effect of, “The Holocaust was carried out by ordinary German citizens.” It was ordinary German citizens who, whether feeling strongly about the Nazi cause or simply wanting to keep their heads down and remain out of suspicion, carried out the atrocities of the Holocaust. Ordinary German citizens who stood quietly by while legions of broken, starving Jews were ushered through their cities like cattle.
It’s terrifying and powerful to think about.
And this book makes me think of that idea more than any I’ve ever read: “The Holocaust was carried out by ordinary German citizens.”
This book is truly special. It’s deep and it hurts. Because the best fiction is the kind that traumatizes you, right?
But really. Everyone should read this book.