Zusak, Markus. The BooK Thief. Random House: New York, NY. 2005. ISBN: 9780375842207.
The Book Thief is about a girl named Liesel Meminger, who is growing up in Nazi Germany. Her thievery of books begins when she picks up a book called The Grave Digger’s Handbook, which was left by her brother’s grave by accident. She was intrigued by the book, and compelled to keep it, despite not knowing how to read. She is sent to live with foster parents. Her foster father helps her learn how to read, and Liesel is taken over by books. She loves them and will get them any way she can, even if it means stealing them from the Nazi’s.
When her foster family hide’s a Jewish man, Liesel’s life drastically changes, more so than already had.
I really enjoyed this. I absolutely love books that take place during the Holocaust. The time period is a very interesting, albeit, depressing time period to learn about.
The Characters: I thought the characters were very well written, especially Liesle, her family, and Rudy. These characters were brought to life in the pages and so anything that happened to them, I felt. Sometimes I didn’t like the characters, and sometimes I did, and that’s how you know the writing is good. They were very well rounded.
Setting: I felt like I was in Nazi Germany, which is terrifying and interesting. All the little details about the Nazi’s brought this story to life. You could feel the fear you would’ve felt had you actually been there. I found myself holding my breath at times, trying not to make a sound and give everyone away. Of course, I’m not in Nazi Germany in 1939, I’m in America in 2016.
Plot: I love the story. The concept of a girl unable to reading becoming intrigued by the written world is fascinating to me. I also love how it reminds me of Fahrenheit 451, as Liesle is stealing books from the burning rubble, hoping to save them. The plot is very unique and I really enjoyed it.
Style: Here’s what turned me off. I was not a fan of it being written from Death’s point of view. Of course, I understand why it was written from his point of view, Death was exceptionally busy back then. But I felt I would have connected more with the characters had it been written from 1st person or 3rd person omniscient. I felt that having death narrate it pulled me out of the book too much. There was too much jumping around, information that was not needed, etc.
All together, a good book. I did enjoy it, but it will join the ranks with the The Diary of a Young Girl, a book that was okay but won’t be rereading.
From School Library Journal: “Zusak not only creates a mesmerizing and original story but also writes with poetic syntax, causing readers to deliberate over phrases and lines, even as the action impels them forward. Death is not a sentimental storyteller, but he does attend to an array of satisfying details, giving Liesels story all the nuances of chance, folly, and fulfilled expectation that it deserves. An extraordinary narrative.”
From Booklist: “There’s too much commentary at the outset, and too much switching from past to present time, but as in Zusak’s enthralling I Am the Messenger (2004), the astonishing characters, drawn without sentimentality, will grab readers. More than the overt message about the power of words, it’s Liesl’s confrontation with horrifying cruelty and her discovery of kindness in unexpected places that tell the heartbreaking truth.”
From USA Today: “The Book Thief is unsettling and unsentimental, yet ultimately poetic. Its grimness and tragedy run through the reader’s mind like a black-and-white movie, bereft of the colors of life. Zusak may not have lived under Nazi domination, but The Book Thief deserves a place on the same shelf with The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank and Elie Wiesel’s Night. It seems poised to become a classic.”
Other books by Markus Zusak:
I am the Messenger ISBN: 0375836675
Underdogs ISBN: 0545542596
Books about the Holocaust:
Night by Elie Weisel ISBN:0374500010
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry ISBN: 0547577095
Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli ISBN: 0375861475