Title: The Book Thief
Author: Markus Zusak
Pages: 549 (paperback)
Genre: Historical Fiction
Summary from Goodreads: It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .
Narrated by Death, Markus Zusak's groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a young foster girl living outside of Munich in Nazi Germany. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she discovers something she can't resist- books. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor's wife's library, wherever they are to be found.
With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, Liesel learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids, as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.
Liesel Meminger’s life was never quite the same, after her mother leaves her, and her brother dies. She seeks refuge, though she finds it in the most peculiar of places: books.
She resorts to anything and everything to get her hands on a book—though only books that she feels fair to steal. There is honor among thieves. Doing everything from snatching a burning book from a fire, to reading the waterlogged pages of a book retrieved from a river, she reads. Words come quickly to her, as she practices with her foster father, Hans Hubberman nightly, to chase away the nightmares of her past.
One of the best things about this book is the highly unusual narrator, Death. Now, many people don’t often think of death as a person, more of an event, that we like to avoid. But the author, Markus Zusak, puts an omnipresent face and voice to this event, giving it life. It was a daring move, undoubtedly, to make Death your narrator in 1942 Germany, but he pulled it off spectacularly.
My favorite thing about this book is how the author never watered things down, or made the tragic events that took place sound not-so-bad. He tells it just how it was. He shows you, with words, just how awful it was, though his dark, oftentimes tragic, humor carries you through to the haunting end. He also shows you, just how powerful a book can be.
The Book Thief is a great read for anyone of the young adult age and up. I would suggest it to anyone and everyone with a passion for reading. I won’t lie to you though, I cried. So, may this recommendation come with a warning, you will laugh, and you will cry. You will feel the burden, and the relief. You will be haunted, and amazed.