When Rachelle came down a few weeks ago, she let me borrow The Book Thief. She had just read it and said it was fantastic, so I figured I would give it a shot.
The writing style is strange to begin with, but it actually makes the story better. It is a German book and just for some background for you, in Germany everything is a person, not something abstract. Death is a person, greed is a person, love is a person, and so on. This book is narrated by Death himself.
I was reading it at work when I was on break or other times and at the end I just couldn't read it there anymore. (It would be weird to be at work with tears streaming down your face).
Tonight I finished it. I read the last 30 pages to Glade because she wanted to be held and I really wanted to finish it. She would sit next to me and look at the book and comment as I read sometimes.
I have never know fear or doubt like they did. I didn't have to go through a World War or a bombing. I have never had a leader that discriminated against an entire religion or race. I have never been scared that my parents would be taken away by the government because they did something they weren't supposed to.
As I read the last 30 pages to Glade, all these thoughts kept running through my head. What if something happened to me? What would Glade do? Would she remember me like Liesel remembered Hans? Would I have taught her enough? Would I have kept her safe enough?
When I was in Germany we went to Dachau when we were in Munich. It is a totally different atmosphere than anywhere I have ever been (besides other Consentration Camps). Even though it is completely open (well, there is a fence all around it), nothing of the outside world comes in. There are no birds, no car noises, it is just absolute silence. And the strangest part of the entire experience is that you don't truly realize people were held here during WWII. People died there. People who were loved and honored before Hitler.
Would I have the courage to stand up for them? Or would I be one of the people on the sidelines just watching?
I looked at Glade and hoped that she would never have to ask herself those questions. I hoped that no matter what, she would be safe.
It is so incredibly hard to put yourself in someone else's shoes. That is probably why there is such a difference between empathy and sympathy. They always say "History is written by the victors". In this story, it is the utmost truth. The ones who stood up, they were the victors. Against the odds they lived.
I just wish there was a way to honor them. We could all learn so much.