Monday, May 2, 2011

Maxi Taxi

First off, sorry for picking a difficult theme, Katie. :P I love Dobby, too. : (

Now on to my favorite book, which is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. For those who haven't read it, The Book Thief is about a young girl named Liesel who is growing up in Nazi Germany with her foster parents. She teaches herself to read out of The Grave-Digger's Handbook and is obsessed with books from there on out. (Also, spoilers from here on out.)

The book is brilliantly written; I honestly can't describe how beautiful, haunting, and unique it is (not to mention the fact that it's narrated by Death himself). I waffled for a bit over whether or not to write about Death, as he almost ties for my favorite character. However, my loyalties lie with Max Vandenburg.

Max is a young Jewish man who Liesel and her foster parents shelter in their basement during the war. I feel such sympathy for this character...we get glimpses of him before anti-Semitism took hold of Germany, and he was a fighter. He is referred to throughout the book as "the Jewish fistfighter," a reference to the days when he would fight with his bare hands as a teenager. When we see him hiding in Liesel's house, however, he seems so weak and helpless and downtrodden that it's hard to imagine him winning fistfights. We can really see what this man has suffered, even long before he spends time at the concentration camp at Dachau.

Ultimately, what I love about Max is that he seems real. He's written so truthfully... When you see people who have suffered like Max has, they often don't heroically keep their strength like we want to think people do. Even though realizing he's being treated unjustly by the Nazi regime, Max feels bad for inconveniencing Liesel's family; he feels like a burden to them and he constantly apologizes to them. He is ashamed to have to hide in someone's basement and demand so much from them. At some points, he simply doesn't feel like he deserves their help. This guilt that he constantly feels is so human, and that's what makes him such a sympathetic and honest character.

Also, the friendship that develops between Max and Liesel is the sweetest thing ever. She gives him hope just by spending time with him, reading with him, and doing childishly innocent things like building a snowman on the basement floor. The scene that breaks my heart every time I read it is when she finds Max in the crowd of Jews being marched to Dachau. When she breaks away from the rest of her town and runs to hug him and recites back to him the words of a story he wrote for her, it is truly a beautiful moment amid all the horror surrounding it.

After their happy reunion at the end of the book (for once, my favorite character doesn't die!), I'd like to think that Max and Liesel end up living out their lives together (and not necessarily romantically). I like to think this because, in the end, they are the two characters in the book that best understand each other. Though they probably don't end up falling in love, (a theory I entertained for awhile, though there is evidence enough to prove me wrong), I know that they would have to remain close friends throughout the rest of their lives.

In conclusion, read The Book Thief if you haven't already and if you have, read it again. : )

Reading: Pride and Prejudice [gag]
Watching: Just watched The End of Time: Part One...Master...
Drinking: Water...which is difficult having watched The Waters of Mars...
Listening to: A Cassius Clay documentary on PBS...
Quote: [Katie tries to do math homework]
Me: You know what's not fair?
Katie: Life...
Me: gorgeous theatre people are...
Katie: [IGNORES] So if the focus...

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