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Westfield Memorial Library Book Club to discuss The Book Thief

Wednesday, February 19, 2014 • 8:07pm

On Wednesday, March 5 at 7:00 p.m., the Westfield Memorial Library Book Club will discuss “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak. The library is located at 550 East Broad Street.

This is not a typical Book Club choice, but according to head of adult services, Jen Schulze, “This book is definitely worthy of a great discussion.”

As written in “School Library Journal,” Zusak has created a work that deserves the attention of sophisticated teen and adult readers. Death himself narrates the World War II-era story of Liesel Meminger from the time she is taken, at age nine, to live in Molching, Germany, with a foster family in a working-class neighborhood of tough kids, acid-tongued mothers, and loving fathers who earn their living by the work of their hands.

The child arrives having just stolen her first book–although she has not yet learned how to read–and her foster father uses it, “The Gravediggers Handbook,” to lull her to sleep when she is roused by regular nightmares about her younger brother’s death.

Across the ensuing years of the late 1930s and into the 1940s, Liesel collects more stolen books as well as a peculiar set of friends: the boy Rudy, the Jewish refugee Max, the mayor’s reclusive wife (who has a whole library from which she allows Liesel to steal), and especially her foster parents.

Zusak not only creates a mesmerizing and original story but also writes with poetic syntax, causing readers to deliberate over phrases and lines, even as the action impels them forward. Death is not a sentimental storyteller, but he does attend to an array of satisfying details, giving Liesel’s story all the nuances of chance, folly, and fulfilled expectation that it deserves.

The book club is free and open to the public. For copies of the book, please call Jennifer (908) 789-4090 x7951 or write jschulze@wmlnj.org.

Founded in 1879, the Westfield Memorial Library—the community’s destination for discovery and ideas—engages minds, entertains spirits and facilitates lifelong learning for people of all ages. Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday; 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday; and 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday.

`For more information call 908.789.4090, visit the library’s website at www.wmlnj.org, and sign up for the monthly e-newsletter “Library Loop,” or stop by the library at 550 East Broad Street for a copy of the award-winning quarterly newsletter “Take Note.”

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