The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
I finished it this morning. My tears were silent, because my husband was sleeping next to me. But I had to cough at one point and quickly wiped my eyes. Because tears on my face tend to excite him:
"Are you okay? What's going on? Is something wrong? Are you sad? What can I do to help?"
And I thought it would be better for him not to wake up that way. So I whispered an apology and he rolled toward me and put an arm across me and I read the rest of Markus Zusak's book with my husband's warm breath on my cheek.
And I thought, "Where did this book come from?"
I mean, I know it came from the mind of Markus Zusak. But it also came from courageous Germans, and a reprehensible man with words in his fists and a square black mustache, and starving Jewish prisoners who held hands with Death.
I first heard about this book at WIFYR. The title on a thousand pairs of lips, whispered everywhere. I don't remember exactly what was said about it, except one workshop member said my manuscript reminded him of The Book Thief and I heard over and over, "You haven't READ it?"
And I thought, "How great could it be?"
I didn't know. Now I do. Great and wonderful and searing and painful and perfect. PERFECT. I haven't read many perfect books. I actually stopped believing a book could be perfect anymore. I want to tell everyone about it, but I think I'll cry when I start to form the words. I want to buy twenty copies of it and hand it out to my parents, my brother, my friends, my children (they'll have to get a little older), my neighbors.
Markus Zusak. I want to shake your hand and say thank you. I wonder how you were made. You remind me of Athena, born fully-formed from the forehead of Zeus. I think, "Markus Zusak, where did you come from?" I know there are answers, completely mundane and logical. But none of them would match what The Book Thief has meant to me.
And I think I will start the book again this evening, and make notes in the margins and highlight passages that inspire me.
Well done, Markus Zusak. The Book Thief is unforgettable.