The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday 
Date: March 2006
Series or Standalone: Standalone
ISBN: 978-0-375-83100-3
Format: Hardcover, 550 pages
Source: Personal Hardback copy
 Rating:  A++   
First line: First the Colors. Then the Humans.
Let me start out by saying, this is my all time number one favorite book ever written, and it has been for some time now. While this book isn't a hot new release you should still take the time to invest in the day or so it'll take you to read it.
The Book Thief isn't very different from many other stories placed around the same time, but this story is one that I think people need to hear.   Markus Zusak grew up hearing stories about World War II and all it's horrors. Stories from his grandparents, books, and his studies in school inspired him to write this simple story.

It starts out with an erie introduction by our narrator: death, who seems to be an almost human character telling us of this amazing story. As you read, you gain a better understanding of the narrator just as much as the other characters. The story goes into Liesel, our main character, moving in with her foster parents in Nazi Germany after the death of her brother. Her foster father is an accordion playing painter, who teaches Liesel the importance of words and is much more tactful than her foster mother, a rough woman with a masked interior. There's also Rudy, Liesel's best friend and neighbor who will do anything for a kiss from her. People think he's crazy for once painting himself black and running around the school's track field in imitation of American athlete Jessie Owens. Rudy and Liesel's friendship grows, but their romance remains the innocent kind that's  always remembered as the best.

I don't want to spoil the book for you, even though this isn't the kind of book you can spoil, but let me just tell you, you are going to cry. I've read this book cover to cover four times and I cried every time. There seems to be so much more to this book than a message about a little girl growing up in Nazi Germany. It shows us who we are as people, what can happen through genuine friendship, how we fall in love, the importance of books, and how things are always on the edge of disaster.  If you're a lover of language you'll gush over how beautifully Markus Zusak threads the words together almost like a poem. 

This is one of those books everyone should read, and I could talk about it forever. The story seems to all be building up to the moment where Liesel's world seems to explode, and when if finally does you see the strength of love at it's worst hour. The rich text, the characters that you start to see as your friends, and the humanizing ending, makes me read this book again and again. Some schools are lucky enough to study this in English classes and if you are you should read it before you start it in school, because having homework over something makes you hate it and hating this book should be a crime to humanity. Everyone should read this book. Go the library if you must, but I suggest buying your own copy because once you get a hold of this story, you aren't going to want to give it away.


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  1. Great review. You covered everything I thought about it. I read this book two weeks ago for the first time, and I can honestly say that I've never cried so hard because of a book. What a stunning, stunning novel.

  2. I was less impressed about The Book Thief, because as an older reader, this isn't my first encounter with the Holocaust. In fact I've been in Germany often, and visited death camps such as Auschwitz, in Poland. I've discovered this book is marketed towards teens and young adults, which explains a lot. As such, it's a good yarn, light on historical background, with some strangely incorrect adjectives in the early chapters(!) ...but that's just me. Read it anyway.

  3. How lovely to find such a heartfelt review of a book that obviously has touched you so deeply. Certainly had the desired effect on me, and I'm getting a copy tomorrow.

    Julia Hughes


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