Published by Random House LLC on 2005
Genres: Drama, Fiction, Historical, World or cultural, Young Adult
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Synopsis from Goodreads:
“It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.
Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who 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.
In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger, has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.”
Death narrates a remarkable story about Liesel, a young girl whose brother passes away on their way to live with foster parents. At his burial, one of the grave diggers drops a book and Liesel steals her first book. Liesel is unable to read very well. Her foster father is a loving and doting father and teaches her to read. As her ability to read improves, so does the love for her foster father and the books that bind them together.
Death, the narrator, is one of my favorite characters and gives us an interesting perspective. Initially, as Death begins the story of taking Liesel’s brother’s soul, I have the mental image of the stereotypical Grim Reaper and honestly, turned on the light because I was freaked out about Death “stealing” souls of the deceased. Death toys with the reader into what he (or she) really looks like. We have this preconceived notion that Death is scary, but then If you believe in an afterlife, should it be scary or welcoming, inviting and beautiful?
Death is surprisngly compassionate and eloquent in describing a dying person’s aura, Death was a fascinating narrator and really brought up thought-provoking ideas on why people die and who brought it upon them.
The book is set during World War II and details the atrocities against Jewish people and the fear of Germans to comply with the Nazi party. I was amazed by the strength of the characters, and their love and survival with the simplest that life in a rationed war-torn town could offer them. The Book Thief is a wonderful, hauntingly beautiful and poignant book and well worth a read, again and again. You won’t want to miss this book.
“I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn’t already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race-that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant.”
“The consequence of this is that I’m always finding humans at their best and worst. I see their ugly and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both. (Death)”
“People observe the colors of a day only at its beginnings and ends, but to me it’s quite clear that a day merges through a multitude of shades and intonations with each passing moment. A single hour can consist of thousands of different colors. Waxy yellows, cloud-spot blues. Murky darkness. In my line of work, I make it a point to notice them.”
“Usually we walk around constantly believing ourselves. “I’m okay” we say. “I’m alright”. But sometimes the truth arrives on you and you can’t get it off. That’s when you realize that sometimes it isn’t even an answer–it’s a question. Even now, I wonder how much of my life is convinced.”
Around the World in 80 Books Reading Challenge – set in Nazi Germany
Books Like This You Might Enjoy:
If you enjoyed The Book Thief, you might also enjoy Sarah’s Key by Tatiana deRosnay.
What books have you read that changed your perceptions? What books have you read about the Holocaust. Happy reading!