The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf (September 11, 2007)
Paperback: 576 pages
Reading Level: Young Adult
It’s just a small story really, about among (sic) other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .
Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.
Taken from the publisher’s website:
I have been staring at the cover of this book on my “Amazon Recommendations” for the better part of 3 years. No joke. So, finally, after much self-promising that I’d read it, I decided to sit down and take the time to do it.
It only took me two days to finish – and that’s in the midst of final exams, group presentations, and research papers (written in French, no less) due within the week. Truly, this book is fantastic. There’s a reason it has been on the New York Times Best-Seller’s list for close to 170 weeks.
I was able to completely immerse myself in the story. Liesel’s family became my family; her friends, my friends. When she woke up from her nightmares and saw her Papa sitting by her bed, I was comforted with her. And the amazing thing is that I have very little in common with this girl. I live in a place that is nowhere close to being Nazi Germany; I don’t have to steal books to be able to read them; I don’t have a Jewish man hiding in my basement. But despite all this, within the pages of The Book Thief, I lived her life along with her.
Now, this isn’t a happy book. Not by any means. It’s set in Nazi Germany; there is a lot of suffering. But it does have its glorious moments. And I think that’s what I loved about it so much, because above all, this book is about life. There are moments that make you want to huddle in bed and cry until you pass out, but then there are moments – maybe with your dad, mom, or best friend – that make everything worth it. Life has its beautiful moments and its ugly moments; that’s how it is. This message, along with Zusak’s ability to get the reader to feel as if s/he is alongside Liesel, living life along with her, is what makes this book great.
Out of the 100 or so books I’ve read this year, this one is most definitely the BEST. I highly recommend it. If possible, read it in print; there are illustrations that greatly add to the story.
PS I thought I’d note that it is narrated by the grim reaper. Yeah, as if it wasn’t cool enough.
My Overall Rating: