I tried not to feel glad that my kid came down with strep throat yesterday, but since she did and since she slept a lot of the day, I was able to finish The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. So I'm offsetting the downer guilt for being a crummy mom with the invigorating oomph that a really fine book produces. This is a difficult book to write about--a phrase like "The power of the human spirit" sounds incredibly trite, but frankly, I can't think of a better way to express the mash of feelings that this wonderful, quirky, intense, sometimes funny, sometimes tragic book inspired in me.
I think the best I can do is quote a line that captures the essence of the story:
"I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant."
I read the last 100 pages with tears streaming down my face, but despite the fact that the narrator is Death and the subject matter is the Holocaust, the book is incredibly life affirming. It reminds me of one of my other favorite books, Everything is Illuminated (which also devotes a significant amount of its plot to the Holocaust) and The Book Thief is going to join the company of Everything is Illuminated by bumping Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott off of my Top 10 list (which is still a mighty fine read, mind you, but now that both of my kids are potty trained, the daily relevance of the "shit storms" that Lamott writes about has decreased).
If you are on my regular list of gift-book recipients, please be advised that you will most likely, be receiving a copy of this book from me when the appropriate celebratory occasion comes around. I gotta tell you, it is great to know what you'll be giving everyone for Christmas on July 22nd!