Book Title/Author: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Publisher/Year: March 14th 2006 by Knopf Books for Young Readers (first published 2005)
Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult, World War II, Holocaust
“The Book Thief centers around the life of Liesel Meminger, a nine-year-old girl living in Germany during World War II. Liesel’s experiences are narrated by Death, who describes both the beauty and destruction of life in this era.
After her brother’s death, Liesel arrives in a distraught state at the home of her new foster parents, Hans and Rosa Hubermann. During her time there, she is exposed to the horror of the Nazi regime and struggles to find a way to preserve the innocence of her childhood in the midst of her destructive surroundings. As the political situation in Germany deteriorates, her foster parents hide a Jewish man named Max, putting the family in danger. Hans, who has developed a close relationship with Liesel, teaches her to read in secret. Recognizing the power of writing and sharing the written word, Liesel begins to not only steal books the Nazi party is looking to destroy, but also write her own stories and share the power of language with Max. As Liesel copes with the trauma of her past and the violent horrors of the war-torn world around her, she embarks on a journey of self-discovery, the formation of a new family, and mostly, her life as a book thief” (Wikipedia)
The concept was what caught my interest: Death telling us the story of Liesel Meminger, a nine-year-old girl, living in Nazi Germany. The ending made me shed a tear or two (not full out crying though). So why not 5 stars?
I found parts of the novel the drag on. This book is 500+ pages and it probably could have been cut to the 400-something mark and still would have achieved telling a great story. I personally found that the ending saved my enjoyment of The Book Thief since I was starting to feel tired of the story. If you’re feeling the same way, fight on and continue reading. The end is worth the read!
This novel is an emotional roller-coaster, packed full of themes dealing with: death, mortality, human’s destruction of life during the 1940 Nazi Germany era, acceptance of others, the love of family and the power of the written word.
I also like that this novel is broken into small chapters and has a few illustrations throughout. These elements made it easy to stay invested in the novel and I am able to enjoy the book in short reading spurts.
“I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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)”
“His soul sat up. It met me. Those kinds of souls always do – the best ones. The ones who rise up and say “I know who you are and I am ready. Not that I want to go, of course, but I will come.” Those souls are always light because more of them have been put out. More of them have already found their way to other places.”