Narrated by a wise, non-threatening voice of “the angel of death,” The Book Thief by Markus Zusak tells the reader, “If you feel like it, come with me. I will tell you a story. I’ll show you something.” That something is an endearing, emotional journey not to be missed or soon forgotten. Through the main character, Liesel Meminger, and her love for books, The Book Thiefis an honest account about the universal truths of the contagiousness of fear, childhood innocence, and the resilient power of people in the time of catastrophe – even while living through Nazi Germany.
Living in the working neighborhood of a small town outside of Munich during WWII with an accordion playing foster father she adores, a Jewish boxer hiding in her basement she finds inspiring, and the undying love and childhood she shares with her best friend named Rudy, Liesel encourages her piece of the world with her fervent admiration and desire for books. Her spirit and strength (and Rudy) help fuel her desire by stealing books from wherever she can (the mayor’s house, Nazi book burnings, and gravesites). She reminds the reader about the respect books deserve through their ability to medicate the soul, even during bombing raids, the destruction of homes, and the loss of loved ones.
The Book Thief is a book you will fall in love with. Markus Zusak has an artisan writing style. The thoughtful character development and engaging storyline are so carefully woven; it’s almost breathtaking. Zusak is sensitive in providing small hints about the destruction and inevitable loss of life to come. Although still emotional moments, this foreshadowing helps prepare the reader. As such, this over 500-page novel is entirely appropriate for young adults and adults. The Book Thief is destined to become a true classic and find its place on bookshelves everywhere, including yours. I give this book five stars.
Special thanks to our friends at LitPick for partnering with us to provide this review!