Do you ever read a book that changes your life so much that you're legitimately mad that you haven't read it before? That was my first thought upon finishing The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Well, that's not strictly true because my first thought was "I need a tissue" closely followed by "I will never be anything less than heartbroken ever again" - but once those had passed I was definitely annoyed that I haven't read this before. I find it hard to believe that this has been lying around my room for a solid year and I've just let it sit there without reading it. Now is it's time to shine, now let me stop myself sobbing enough to talk about it.
The Book Thief is, in essence, a book that is narrated by Death and it tells of the three times that death met the book thief in her life, and of the events that led up to all of these occurrences. It's beautifully written and it's captivating, and it follows intertwining lives mainly focused on Liesel, Rudy and Max - all children and young adults during the second world war living in Nazi Germany. As you might imagine, it really isn't an easy read (and I mean come on, what did you expect, it's written by death) but it definitely is worthwhile.
It took me a solid few chapters to get into the swing of the book - but once I'd gotten used to the vocabulary and the general flow of the book I found myself really reluctant to put it down. It helped having some knowledge of History and World War II, but it really wasn't essential and you could definitely get through the book without it. Some basic German is used in the book - but anything essential to the story is explained or translated and many words are used multiple times and so by the end of the book you at least get the basic gist of most of the words that are written in German.
Honestly, this is the kind of book that genuinely makes you think differently about life. I did my A-Level around Nazi Germany, I've been to concentration camps in Poland and listened to Holocaust survivors, but this felt like something different altogether. This so brilliantly captures parts of the war that I had never considered before - from how hard it was to run a business, to the general hostility between families with differing backgrounds and even what it was like to actually grow up as a part of the Hitler Youth - whether a believer or otherwise.
As emotional as I found The Book Thief, I just thought that it was so beautiful and so worth reading. It was the kind of book that I finished and wanted to start again from the beginning straight away. I won't be watching the film because I just don't feel like it can ever live up to the book for me - but I would definitely recommend reading it right now if you never have.