***A few questions and their answer***
Who would steal books before she knew how to read? Whose story caught the interest of Death? Who is Liesel Meminger?
Answer: She is The Book Thief
“She was clutching the book. She was holding desperately on to the words who had saved her life.”
Liesel Meminger is in a new life. Her brother died on the train ride. Her mother disappeared. She never knew her father. Things start looking up when she is adopted by a couple who live on a street called Heaven, both to simply be called Mama and Papa. Her papa plays the accordion and teaches her to read her first stolen book; the one from her brother’s funeral. She befriends her next door neighbor Rudy, a boy with hair the color of lemons, who keeps asking Liesel for a kiss. It could have been a perfectly happy story if they weren’t in Germany during World War II, hiding a Jew named Max in their basement.
The book itself was beautifully written, although it began a little slow for me. It isn’t a book you want to race through. The movie matched this the heart of the story, even when details such as how Liesel’s papa was drafted, the reason her mama was fired, and which books were stolen changed, but on the whole, I was surprised how close the movie followed the book.
There were a few changes I liked better in the movie, such as Max giving Liesel the diary and Rudy discovering she was hiding Max because it established a closer relationship to these characters that felt less due to some scenes like Max’s handwritten books or Rudy and Liesel stealing things other than books together being cut.
The thing that bothered me the most in the film was the lack of the narrator, Death. He had a prominent part in the book, making side comments and revealing what is yet to come. Although it was nice in the movie to not worry about jumping around in the story, Death barely speaking at all in the movie had an unsettling effect any time he spoke, which may have been what the movie intended.
The movie can stand on its own, but it loses some depth from the elegantly written book. There isn’t as much violence as one might expect from World War II, but that’s not to say it isn’t there. The ending was exactly the same as the book, but I won’t reveal any more. Maybe not being a lighthearted movie is the point, because that is how it becomes that much more powerful.
-Nicole G., 10th grade