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Book Review of The Book Thief

The Book Thief
demiducky25 avatar reviewed on + 161 more book reviews

This book will haunt you in many ways. Told from the perspective of Death, we are brought into the WWII world of Liesel, a young girl living with her foster parents in Germany. We meet a number of people in her life: her friend Rudy who is made fun of because of his admiration of Jesse Owens, her foster parents Hans and Rosa who show their love for Liesel in different ways, Max who is a Jewish fist-fighter for whom life will never be the same once Hitler rises to power & finds himself hiding in Liesel's foster parents' basement, and the mayor's wife who witnesses Liesel's first act of stealing. Liesel arrives at Hans and Rosa's house illiterate and haunted by the death of her brother. When Hans teaches her to read from the book she stole at the gravesite, Liesel finds her world opened up to words and begins to steal them whenever they call to her. We also witness the changes in Liesel's world as WWII progresses, and the reader really gets the sense that the average person in Germany was just trying to survive the war. Too often, people lump all Germans into the Nazi category, but Markus Zusak does a fantastic job portraying life in Liesel's poor village, where survival is the bigger concern, and that there were people who wanted to do the right thing, even if it wasn't safe to do.

I strongly recommend this book, and wish that it was required reading for any middle/ high school course that teaches WWII. For a book that is considered "young adult," it is quite long at 550 pages. The writing style with interludes from the narrator takes a little getting used it, but I love the fact that the chapters are very short because it makes you feel like you're making progress in the book quickly. Once you finish this book, you will find that it sticks with you for a long time!