The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief is a 552 page fictional novel about a young German girl who lives near Munich during the height of Nazi Germany. I picked this novel up on a whim at a sale (garage sale? library sale? I’m not sure–it was quite a while ago). I was hesitant to read it because it seemed like a very popular book, and I’m always pretty hesitant about joining the masses in enjoying something.

The Book Thief

One interesting thing about the novel is that it is narrated by Death. Death is pretty fed up with humans and their many ways and reasons they find to kill each other. In fact, one might say he is tired of it. However, it is still his job to take the souls of the dead with him, and it’s a job that never ends. I both loved and hated Death as a narrator; loved because it was new and interesting, hated because it was a little sad knowing even at the beginning of the novel who dies and how they do so. This was extremely effective though, and didn’t take away from the novel even a little bit.

Although during World War II, Death was pretty occupied, he had a special interest in Liesel Meminger, a young girl who was given up by her mother at the age of 11 to a foster family–Hans and Rosa Hubermann–in Molching, Germany. He read the book she wrote when she was young, and kept an eye on her from then on. This is how we get Liesel’s story. The plot of The Book Thief is centered around Liesel’s foster family and the Jewish man they hide in their basement. The tension here is well done and fascinating, while Liesel’s innocence brings a new point of view to Nazi Germany.

It’s been a little while since I finished this novel, so most of the details aren’t fresh in my mind. I do still have a lingering feeling of delightful sadness. While that may be an oxymoron, it’s true for this story. Death hangs over everyone, literally, and helps prepare you for eventual sadness so that you can enjoy the small happiness that Liesel has in her child’s world, like “stealing” books from the governor’s wife, playing ball with Rudy Steiner, and learning to read and write by painting on basement walls. This truly is a delightful book–though a better description might be bittersweet–even with the incredibly dark tones brought about by WWII.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Adam
    Sep 10, 2013 @ 18:50:22

    I loved this book, and I’m glad you enjoyed it as well.

    It’s been a while since I’ve read it, but I remember being unable to put the book down, but at the same time dreading what was coming up as the story continued. Zusak does a wonderful job with the story in this book, I thought that Death as a narrator worked wonderfully.

    Also, if you haven’t checked it out yet, I Am The Messenger, another book by Zusak, is also very good.


    • hannahrose42
      Sep 11, 2013 @ 09:40:33

      I have heard of that book, but I don’t know anything about it, really. I will have to look it up.


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