Friday, August 3, 2012

The Book Thief

the book thief

Where do I start?

My mom brought this book back from Australia with her in 2008 and has been telling me I should read it ever since. It lived in the bookcase beside the bed in the room I slept in when I visited my parents. I'd see it there, but for whatever reason I'd never pick it up and start it. I finally packed it up last summer and brought it home with me. And it proceeded to sit on my bedside table, untouched, until last week.

And then I couldn't put it down. I read it in snatches while J was having a bath. I read it while dinner was cooking. I stayed up late reading it, but not too late because I didn't just want to read the story, I need to savour every word.

The Book Thief is set on a poor street in Molching, a village outside of Munich, during World War II. Yes. Another WWII novel. It is narrated by Death and it follows Liesel, a young German girl, as she adjusts to life with a poor foster family and all of the additional challenges the war brings.

The cast of characters in this book is amazing - besides Liesel and Death there is her foster mother whose language would make a sailor blush, but who loves Liesel even through all her fierceness, there's Papa, the gentle foster father with his silver eyes and his accordion, there's Rudy, the boy next door with the lemon coloured hairwho dreams of being Jesse Owens, there's Max, there's Frau Diller and Frau Holtzapfel, there are so many wonderful characters.

It's a book full of colour and full of emotion. Death associates each dead person with a colour and throughout the book colour is emphasized - hair colour, eye colour, the colour, or lack thereof, of some minor, inconsequential detail. And there are emotions. Many emotions. There's fear and anger. There's joy and sorrow. It's all there. And the reader feels it too. I had tears in my eyes a few times - just like Jessica G. in the comments on this post when Rosa held the accordion and when the eyes turned to rust and when Max left, not once, but twice and when he came back and over and over in the last 50 or so pages. I finished this book on my break at work and I'm sure they thought I was going crazy (I am temporarily helping a department that is not my own on a project that is super stressful, and don't know any of them very well, so I'm sure they thought my red-rimmed eyes were work, not book related!)

I've written before (I think over there, I thought maybe when I wrote about Suite Fran├žaise, but apparently it was some other book) about being sad a book ended and wanting it to keep going, well this was one of those books. I wanted to know what happened, beyond the small snippets that Death gave us. I know why the book had to end there, Death explained it, but I want to know what happened in the years between where we leave Liesel in 1943 and where Death picks up the story again in the Epilogue. How do you think she got were she ended up? I have a bunch of theories and no answers. Maybe that's how it's supposed to be, but I want more!

Oh, and a quick quibble about the Young Adult genre. I don't get it. Apparently it's a relatively new genre. Books like Anne of Green Gables and Little Women were written for adults, with teenagers caught up in that age groups. I have a hard time distinguishing between YA for older teens and adult fiction, especially if its well written. I think this book could fall into either category. I dunno...YA is a difficult genre to define!

I'd love to hear what other thought of the book...this book really makes me wish I still had a book club because I really, really, really want to talk about it!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

lightning thief

So my thought that I would stop reading kids/young adults fantasy series and concentrate on some of the books piling up in my house? Yeah, it's just not happening. For ages I've wanted to read the Percy Jackson books, but I didn't want to buy them and because my library browsing tends to be anything adjacent to the small kids section of the library, I never picked them up. And then this book made it into one of the turning racks within easy reach of the picture books.

I read it in a day, but that's not surprising since it's geared towards the under-12 crowd. I liked was slightly predictable (I guessed who the bad guy was almost right away), but it was good. Again it was a great reminder to me that I need to brush up on my Greek mythology. The Google machine? It was my friend again. I went to the library last week to pick up the four books I had on hold (which is another reason books are piling up in my house. I need to stop putting holds on things and instead just adding to the massively huge list of books I'd like to read someday) and managed to come home with two more from this series. Maybe by the time I finish the Percy Jackson books I will have a better grasp on Greek mythology. And maybe (but not likely) I won't be drawn into Rick Riordan's world of mythology. Yeah. Fat chance. I'm already hooked.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Dear George Clooney: Please Marry My Mom

Hmmm. What can I say? I picked this book up because the author, Susin Nielsen, is Canadian and she wrote some Degrassi episodes. As in old Degrassi. From when I was a kid.

It's one of those funny in-between books - Violet, the protagonist is 12, so is it kidlit or YA fiction?

Violet is an angry and upset young lady - her father, a director, ran off to California with his star, married her, and had twins. Violet lives in Vancouver with her mom and her five year old sister. Her sister's reaction to the divorce is slightly less angry than Violet's - Rosie has taken to wetting the bed and biting a girl at the daycare.

I was on the fence with this book. I loved how Violet and her friend Phoebe take control of what they think is an out-of-control situation, Violet's mom's love life, and send George Clooney a long letter detailing why he should marry Violet's mom. I love the everyday 12 year old-ness of the book - the cute guy from Winnipeg who calls Violet Pamplemousse, Violet's proclamations that she's not into boys, she'll never be into boys, look at all the guys her mom has dated that didn't work out so all boys are gross and her simultaneous (and somewhat confusing to her) crush on aforementioned cute guy from Winnipeg, the mean girl, the influence of social media on her life (I am oh so glad there was no social media when I was 12. Life was interesting enough as it was!), the Magic 8 ball conversation with her father.

Overall I liked this book for what it was - a book for a pre-teen/young teenager. I loved all of the Vancouver references. I even liked the cute ending. The only thing that drove me nuts was that the boring, dorky man Violet's mom ended up with (who isn't actually boring or dorky) was the white knight who rode in and fixed all the things wrong with their home and car - bannisters secured, old furniture removed, mufflers fixed, etc.