We picked this for book club.
Another WWII book.
Calling it another WWII book is wrong. Very very wrong.
Because that is oversimplifying it. Yes, the story takes place during World War Two, but the story is about more than that... it is about some of the people who played the accordion and loved and fought and cried and read and stole books while World War Two thundered down upon them and changed their lives forever.
I didn't want to read this book.
I didn't want to think about world wars, or dead Jews, or little girls hiding in basements while bombs dropped from the sky. I didn't want to cry when characters I loved died.... because you know that in a book set during World War Two, a book about a German girl living in Nazi Germany, a book narrated by Death himself.... when you read a book like this, you know that people are going to die. A lot of people.
I am so glad I read this book.
I'm glad I pushed past the first chapter when the voice of Death as narrator being almost pretentiously literary threatened to drive me up a wall. I'm glad I became swept up in the life of a little German girl who's love of reading leads to her stealing books. I'm glad I was introduced to her adoptive father who simply must be one of the best parents in all of literature. I'm glad I had an excuse to add a few choice German words to my vocabulary. I'm glad I got to watch Ruby play soccer and meet Max, the skin and bones Jew who lived in the basement and wrote stories on repainted pages of Mien Kampf.
The story is gripping, tragic, bittersweet, and unforgettable The writing is crisp, literary, magical, and haunting. The pace is both quick enough to keep your attention and slow enough to build the drama of the unavoidable climax into a fervent tension... Death teases us with glimpses of the future as a way of at once warning us (giving our hearts time to harden) and making us quake with anticipation.
This is one of those up-all-night-reading-instead-of-sleeping books that will trouble your heart, challenge your mind, and enrich your life.
Don't be daunted by the length.
Read this book.