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Previewing July's Pajiba Book Club Selection

By mswas | Books | July 7, 2010 |

By mswas | Books | July 7, 2010 |

My mother-in-law recommended The Book Thief to me. I read a brief synopsis on Amazon, and was cautiously intrigued. However, I did not expect to find it in the Young Adult section of my library. Now that I go back to I see that one review mentions “Grade 9 and up.” But don’t let that fool you. Set in Molching, Germany during World War II, The Book Thief is an unflinching look at life, love, war, families, prejudice, and reading. I admit that I’m happy that this novel is shelved in the Young Adult section — wasn’t there a recent study about young kids today not being as empathetic? So that’s a good thing. I do worry that it won’t be found by those perusing the Adult section though, and really, can’t we all use a dose of empathy these days?

I say that I was cautiously intrigued by its synopsis, because I must tell you (and every review will mention it as well): The book begins with the death of the young brother of the protagonist, Liesel. Thus, my caution. I developed a strong abhorrence to any book, movie, or show about the death or harm of kids when my own children were born. Thankfully I didn’t let that stop me. The author, Mark Zusak, doesn’t belittle the importance of his death; rather, he uses it to illustrate Liesel for us. Her reaction to her brother’s death, and her foster father’s reaction to her grief both set the story along its path through the war.

What is The Book Thief about? Let me quote the book itself:

It’s a small story really, about, among other things:

  • A girl
  • Some words
  • An accordionist
  • Some fanatical Germans
  • A Jewish fist fighter
  • And quite a lot of thievery

    When the offer of moderating a discussion came up, I jumped at it. I love this stuff — reading and discussing books online. I’d just read The Book Thief for my Cannonball Read, so that didn’t come to mind initially. I thought of some of my old favorites that I always recommend to others, but then I thought about how I felt when I finished this book. I really wanted to tell a lot of people! I posted my review, tweeted it and mentioned it in my Facebook status. I don’t know that anyone went out and picked it up based on my little shouts about it. But now I can recommend it to you. I hope you enjoy it, and that you can come back for the discussion on Friday, July 30th.

    Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.