The Book Thief is set in Nazi Germany and tells the story of Liesel, whilst she lives at her foster home in a small town called Molching at the onset of World War Two. Here, she meets an array of fascinating characters and as we read, we discover more about the war, but also the individuals who are punished because of it. The town gets bombed. Liesel dies.
Before you complain about spoilers, this book is full of them. The story is narrated by Death and initially I was taken aback by this, as I couldn’t quite follow the narrative. Death is an interesting narrator that reveals the story at the start of each chapter, but the best thing about it is that you need to know how the story gets to that point. Foreshadowing becomes a very clever device to use, even though it reveals the fate of many characters. However, this story is told so masterfully and creatively that you just have to read it and find out how the events took place.
I was drawn in by the characters and their stories. I laughed with them, cried with them and understood their motives, even ones that were morally wrong. Liesel and her book thievery is the main storyline, with Death narrating the fascinating, and sometimes devastating, events around her steals. All of the characters she comes across in Molching are truly believable, with Hans Huberman and Max Vandenberg being the most inspiring characters I have ever read about.
You’ve heard the hype. Now judge for yourself. I am pleased to say that this is my new favourite book. It is an absolute classic, which everybody needs to read. This book left a beautiful message behind. Thank you, Marcus Zusak.
The Beggar & the Hare is a modern re-telling of a Finnish classic tale The Year of the Hare by Arto Paasilinna. The story tells of a man, Vatanescu, who flees his home to lead a new life as a migrant trafficked beggar, all with the aim to raise enough cash to buy his son a pair of football boots.
He becomes embroiled with a Russian trafficker, Yegor, who revels at the dismay of others and profits in their losses. Soon after meeting Yegor, he (Vatanescu) finds out exactly what sort of person he is and he realises that he needs to find another way to make the money he so eagerly needs. His journey takes him far and wide and along the way he meets every sort of character thinkable…oh and a Hare! This injured creature provides Vatanescu with some respite and solace while he is essentially on the run from Yegor.
Vatanescu’s journey takes him to places he would have usually only dreamt of and on adventures that he would never have imagined. The Beggar & the Hare is a sweet tale of friendship and strength even during the hardest of times. Being down and out doesn’t mean that your life is over- make of it what you will.
Kyrö’s prose is often hilarious and I found myself smiling whilst reading the closing chapters, as I felt as though I’d really travelled with our plucky hero. I felt that the book was a little too zany in places and thought that it could have been toned down slightly here and there to have made for a much more welcome ending. Quite similar to Jonas Jonasson’s The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared in both style and content, fans of Jonasson’s work will enjoy this slightly over-the-top tale.
The version that I read was a brilliantly designed small hardback with a coppery bronze inlay for the eye and whiskers of the hare on the cover. A really nice touch that should make people pick it up for a look for sure.