Reading: The Book Thief

I am a fan of Markus Zusak. He is one of my favorite newer YA authors (along with John Green). I ate I Am the Messenger in just a few hours. The Book Thief was much more difficult to read, and shows another dimension of Zusak’s imagination.

Liesel Meminger lives with a foster family in a small town outside of Munich in the early 1940s. Her accordion-playing foster father teaches her to read, although her career as a book thief begins while she is still illiterate. Her family takes in a Jewish man, the son of a man who saved him in World War I, and Liesel befriends him. The story is narrated by Death, who gives a different perspective on life and war.

The story has the dark humor you would expect from a book narrated by Death.

The Book Thief

Reading: The Burn Journals

Since I don’t have a separate blog for my YA reading, I’m going to post those reviews here. I did not have extra time this Thanksgiving break, but I took time to finish two books that have been hanging over my head since the semester began.

The Burn Journals is Brent Runyon’s account of his recovery from a self-inflicted fire that almost killed him. It is incredibly hard to read, because it reminds me that boys can be in incredible emotional pain, yet not know how to reach out… or even want to reach out for help. After Brent survives the fire, he realizes that he does want to live, and he can’t even remember why he set himself on fire in the first place.

My life revolves around boys. I have two of my own, I have a brother who is just 14 months younger than me, we were raised by a single father. I am a Cub Scout assistant den leader and intend to go on to be involved in Boy Scouts next year. My interests as a librarian are middle schoolers… kids the age Brent was when he hurt himself… and reluctant readers. With all the interest and exposure, it’s still clear from this book that I just can’t know what’s going on in their heads, their hearts, and their souls.

The Burn Journals

Review: Snake Hips

Snake Hips is Anne Thomas Soffee’s memoir of how bellydancing saved her after her world-ending break-up with the man she thought was it. I tread lightly when reviewing memoirs, and this one is no different. This memoir is hilarious, compelling, descriptive… yet it’s not what it could be. Perhaps it’s exactly what Soffee wanted, so I hesitate to point out what I consider its flaws. With a memoir, you’re never sure if it’s the writing or the author that bothers you, and to be sure, there were times I wanted to grab Soffee and say “Quit doing that! The guy’s a sleaze! You deserve better!” Other times, I wanted to ask her to tone down the brutal judgment she passes on herself and others. But that’s part of her voice and her personality, and it didn’t keep me from staying up late at night to read “just one more chapter.”

This book would be of special interest to people who like bellydancing, people who are interested in Arab-American issues, uber-hip people who are going through bad break-ups, and people from or in Richmond, Virginia.