I just finished two books, almost simultaneously, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and A Hearbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers. The former gets two thumbs up from me and the latter two thumbs down. Narrated by Death, The Book Thief is truly heartbreaking and staggering, and it IS genius. Nine-year old Leisel struggles in Nazi Germany to adjust to her new foster family, to deal with the death of her young brother in her arms, and to learn to read. She witnesses book burnings and parades of Jews to Dachau; she’s forced to join the Hitler Youth, wear its uniform, and Heil Hitler wherever she goes. She survives and thrives, mainly with the support of her foster father Hans, best buddy Rudy, and her stolen books. Her other best friend is the young Jewish man whom the family sequesters during the most difficult and dangerous of times. I must see the movie to find out how the true to the book the screenplay is.
The second is a yawning work of self-conscious, staggering idiocy. It was neither humorous nor inspiring. It is an endless stream of senseless, unfiltered word-vomiting, of paranoia and neuroses, of slovenliness and impulsiveness. I kept thinking that Dave was definitely a candidate for Ritalin or Adderal or something. How or why it was a Pulitzer finalist is quite beyond my understanding.
While I couldn’t put The Book Thief down, I could hardly force myself to continue A Heartbreaking Work. In fact, I had to restrain myself from tossing the book into the thrift shop donation pile. However, since my book club selected it, I felt obligated to finish it. Did I enjoy it? No. Would I recommend it to anyone? No. But I’m proud that I finished it as two of my book clubbers did not. I’m glad we had the opportunity to read it; it is not the usual type of book I would choose. It’s a positive experience to try something new. Next up for our club is The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King, followed by The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng. If you want a good read, grab The Book Thief, a real heartbreaking work of staggering genius!
[Visit me at www.sandybakerwriter.com to find out more about my children’s gardening books, drought tolerant design, butterfly and hummingbird gardening, and lawn removal and replacement.]