Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘novel’

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

By her brother’s graveside, Liesel’s life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger’s Handbook, left there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery.

So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordion-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever there are books to be found.

But these are dangerous times. When Liesel’s foster family hides a Jewish fist-fighter in their basement, Liesel’s world is both opened up, and closed down.

 

The Book Thief is by far the best book I have ever read.

Yes, bold statement, but true. And yes, in the grand scheme of it all, I am only a small reader in a worldwide pool of voracious readers, and have yet to even scratch the surface of the number of great books out there in Literature Land. But to date, it is ranked as my number one by a very long way.

It was the writing that captured my attention. When she looked up, the sky was crouching; … the words fell like injuries from his mouth; Her feet scolded the floor; Air breathed up her pyjama sleeves. They would each greet me like their last true friend, with bones like smoke, and their souls trailing behind.

Marcus Zusak, an Australian writer, gives a master class on how to write prose that is poetic, a narrative that is insightful, and he weaves a storyline that is every bit heart-wrenching from what we’d expect from a book based around Nazi Germany war times. However, hemmed beautifully amongst the dark veil that shrouds the story, Zusak brings light, and it shines wonderfully to lift our spirits, to guide us steadily, and to help us to the end of a truly captivating story.

Of course, there are interesting characters that you learn to love and some that you learn to hate, and a narrator, without giving it away, is simply to die for. These characters create a platform that teaches us the many layers and the varying colours of the human soul.

Liesel Meminger, the book thief, is the main character. Her brother dies on their journey to live with foster parents in a small country town in Germany, and she is alone to start a new life with nothing more than a book she stole at his burial. Through her life with her new family and friends, Rudi Steiner and a Jewish stowaway named Max Vandenburg, we learn about friendships and hardships, love and death, and about courage and hope in the midst of destiny, cruelty and adversity.

The Book Thief is masterful and eloquent. It is crafted with intelligence and saturated with creative genius. The story has power and the words are like dancing musical notes, blending wonderfully to create art that easily moves you. I was captured, touched, and provoked to feel—driven to tears and laughter within a single sentence.

If you’re a reader, then I urge you to absorb yourself in the narrative. If you’re a writer, then I beg you to take note of the style and technique and applaud the effort it has taken to create such a masterpiece. I highly recommend reading this book.

 

Rating: 5 out of 5

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

‘Hey, Dad,’ the boy said.

‘Hi,’ his father said, standing from his chair to embrace his son.

His father was a tall man, solid, with hands as big as baseball mitts—hands that had picked up his little boy and thrown him a million miles into the air, watching the tyke laugh and flail with glee before catching him. The boy smiled, remembering, and the man smiled too, perhaps with the same memory surfacing in his mind. There was safety and security in his father’s arms, a love expressed through action, and that had made up for all the absent days, the boy reflected.

His father’s smile was easy and his expression genuine, yet his hazel eyes were deep and serious and watchful as though every movement came under scrutiny, and maybe it did. His voice could command a room, if required to do so, and those large hands had been known to silence a disrespectful few, if also required to do so. He was old fashioned, moulded from old fashioned values and a man true to his word. This earned him the respect he required but it was his kindness and integrity to do right that made him a good leader and a hero in the boy’s eyes.

Excerpt (novel) – The Wish List – Grant Ackermann

Read Full Post »

The boy entered his room and smelled the pot-pouri his mum had left in a bowl on his chest of drawers, an attempt to rid the dank odour of sweat-filled socks and shoes that permeated his room. He felt cold air prick and touch his skin, coming in from the window his mother had also left open, and yet there was still a welcoming warmth and comfort that greeted him from being in his space. This was his room, his sanctuary. He looked at the poster-filled walls of sporting heroes and pop stars and wondered fleetingly if it was time to remove them. Wasn’t he too old for such things now? Then his eyes moved to his Avengers action figure set, where they stood poised and ready to protect him at any moment of peril, and decided that no, he wasn’t too old yet.

He moved to the window to look out into the green backyard with rising blades of grass stretching to the fading pink of sunset and took a deep breath. Another gift to be savoured, he thought. He stood at the window for a long time admiring the sky as the pink turned to purple and then to grey and then to dark-blue. He inhaled another deep breath of fresh air, feeling the coolness enter his body, and exhaled a thank you out to the universe. He could do this. He could reunite his family. He could do what so desperately needed to be done. He closed the window, dropped his bag at his feet and flung himself backwards onto his bed.

Excerpt (novel) – The Wish List – Grant Ackermann

Read Full Post »

It wasn’t until my third blood nose that Mum decided, with temper at boiling point, to go and speak to Johnny Lindell’s parents. She dragged me by the arm, the tissue paper still plugged into my nostril and hanging from my nose, and marched up the road in a lengthy stride and charging demeanour, which would have frightened even the biggest herd of on-coming stampeding buffalo, to the Lindell’s place. I jogged to keep up, matching my two or three steps to Mum’s one, and I knew that Mum meant business. I had never seen her this fired up before.

Afternoon had not yet settled to dusk, and the sky flared deep oranges and pinks from the lowering sun. We reached the small brick house with our cheeks flushed and our faces glistening with sweat. Rubbish and toys lay scattered across the front yard. The tall, tangled grass desperately needed a mow and graffiti marked the dirty white walls of the front of the house in a colourful tag of scribbles and letters. A window was open and we could hear heavy-metal music and voices from within. Mum pulled back the mesh of wire that served as a front screen and banged on the door. Specks of brown paint floated to the floor, settling with others that had already made the journey down from where the paint curled back and flaked away from the corroding wooden door in protest.

Excerpt (novel) – Insane Truth – Grant Ackermann

Read Full Post »

On the days when loneliness appeared and entered her world, drowning away her strength and clarity, as it seemed to do more often these days, she would surrender to the tears and question God. Why was she to suffer like this? Hadn’t she done enough to serve Him? Hadn’t she been a good disciple and served her Lord dutifully ever since her first church visit? Well … most of the time, she conceded.

She remembered her father leading her by the hand while she craned her neck at the enormity and beauty of the church, the large colourful windows, the high ceiling, the way the light floated in like fairy dust to settle amongst rows of filled wooden pews of men and  women dressed in suits and frocks and hats. Yes, her pale-blue dress that hung to her ankles was stiff and starchy and whooshed and rustled when she walked, but she felt like she had fitted in, like she had belonged. But where was her hat she had wondered, looking up at her father whose eyes stayed forward and his expression stoic. This she reminded herself to ask mum later. Being four years old was not too young for a hat, she had decided.

Her father led her to a seat in the front row under the watchful eye of Mrs. Myrtle, who sat facing her from the first seat in the choir, while he went off to fulfill his duties as an elder of the church. Mrs. Myrtle looked as wicked as a scarecrow with a voice as rough as a cement mixer, but sang her heart out in the choir as if the day of judgement had arrived and her effort could earn her a place in the kingdom … and perhaps it did.

So why now was she being punished like this, even after a lifetime of heartache? This was as Father James had preached at almost every service, “Her cross to bear,” and bear she would. What choice did she have? She sighed and breathed out, willing her strength to return. She would fight, she had to. Yes, the cancer was spreading but she would be damned if she would let that control her.

Excerpt (novel) – The Wish List – Grant Ackermann

Read Full Post »

I remember grabbing Mr. B my teddy for comfort. He was my soft and cuddly place, my courage when I was scared, a good source of entertainment when I was bored, and a confidant—always a good listener when things at home were crazy.

The house was quiet, except for the howl of the wind outside and some shuffling sounds from the lounge. I could feel a change in the mood, like a bad smell seeping through the air turning everything unpleasant and I grew nervous. I pressed Mr. B to my chest and edged my way along the dark hallway towards the soft, gentle, triangle of light that rested neatly at the doorway entrance. My footsteps were silent against the thin layer of carpet but I could do nothing to dampen the thunderous beat of my heart. Still, I moved hesitantly towards the doorway, ignoring the strong urge to turn back and find sanctuary under the blankets on my bed before it was too late. Something was wrong, I could feel it, and I needed to find out. I waited for my eyes to adjust before I cautiously peeped around the corner.

Mum sat naked and slouched on the couch, her head buried in her hands, tendrils of long brown hair trapped between her fingers. She looked pale against the light. She was crying. Instinctively, she looked up, her tear-filled eyes locking onto mine for a moment before quickly averting to the floor where she searched and grabbed an item of clothing for cover. But I had seen the shame as clearly as I could feel the guilt in her presence, and the naked truth of our lives would be forever captured in that one sad moment, a moment that would later replay itself over and over in my mind as the years passed, and would play an integral part in my childhood and my future.

Excerpt (novel) – Insane Truth – Grant Ackermann

Read Full Post »

I resent my dad. Well, there’s not much to tell except that I vowed never to be like him. Any decent man steps up and takes responsibility, right, Doc? Not my father. He walked out on us, the coward. Didn’t even try to reconcile with Mum. I wonder if Mum tried? She never did say, so I guess not.

I remember the rain bucketing down that night he left. My father’s tall, dark frame cutting through the torrent, deflecting the heavy rain drops that bounced off him like bullets against Superman’s body, disappearing from the view of my bedroom window, vanishing into the darkness.

He didn’t even look back. If he had, he would’ve seen my face, wide-eyed and curious, pressed up against the glass, bewildered. At the time I thought he was coming back, probably just gone to the shops, or gone to see a man about something or other, as he would always tell Mum. Little did I know it would be the last time I would ever see him, and not even a goodbye. I mean, what am I supposed to think? The man I loved and adored couldn’t give a damn about his own flesh and blood. What kind of a man is that? Certainly not the man I want to be.

Excerpt (novel) – Insane Truth – Grant Ackermann

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »