To be a Jew at that time...no words can express the sorrow. This book touches on what it was like to be a Jew from the start to the finish. It also talks about what it was like to be a German during the war, a story no one has ever told me before. The German families were given the choice to support the Fuhrer or die like the Jews. Hitler convinced an entire nation to willingly allow human suffering on such a vast scale. Those who tried to resist like Hans and Alex, were recruited and made to serve as soldiers for a cause they didn't believe in. This is a tale of the Jew, but it is also the tale of the German. Not the German consumed with hate and burning, but the German that is consumed with fear and sorrow.
This book is about the power of words. The words that took down a world. The words that took down neighborhoods. The words that took down families. "It's a burning testament to how words can overcome adversity, but also to how they have in extreme circumstances been used to create fanatic hatred. It's about the tragedy of what happens to the human soul when the power to express or write words is taken away from it. It shows that whilst words are an inspiring force in translating feelings, and in expressing the inexpressible, they can also destroy the very things that we hold most dear. They help us to survive and to endure the loss of those that don't."
Which leads me to my next thought: survivors guilt. "To live. Living was living. The price was guilt and shame." (pg 227) There are many examples of this in the book. Rudy's father, Hans, Robert, Max. "When they come and ask you for one of your children, ...you're supposed to say yes." (pg 446)
Zusak has written this book from Death's point of view. He took words (death, war, and sorrow) and painted them in such a way that you could smell it, taste it, touch it, and see it. "For me, the sky was the colour of Jews. When their bodies had finished scouring for gaps in the door, their souls rose up. their fingernails had scratched the wood and in some cases were nailed into it by the sheer force of desperation, and their spirits came towards me, into my arms. We climbed out of those shower facilities, onto the roof and up, into eternity's certain breadth. They just kept feeding me. Minute after minute. Shower after shower." (pg 372)
This book is one I recommend to anyone, children, young adults, adults. This is a book that will open your eyes to the power of words and the power of love.