Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

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. . . .

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she 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 before he is marched to Dachau.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

–back cover of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

This book is absolutely moving. It takes you about 70 years back to Nazi Germany and follows the story of Liesel Meminger, a young girl who goes to live with foster parents. I really loved pretty much everything about this book.

I think that my favorite part is that the narrator is Death. This is such a unique way to tell a story. I loved how it was told in an almost musical way. I never would’ve expected Death to have such a sense of humor or such a care for humans.

Most stories that I’ve read from this time period were in the point of view of a Jew. I thought that it was an interesting point of view having the main character be a child watching her parents help a Jew. I had never really thought about it before, but I’m sure that was something that happened frequently.

I think that the real selling point of the book is the characters. They were so real and lovable…even the ones like Rosa, who tried to not be lovable.

Liesel was the character that Death followed most of the time. He was fascinated by her. I loved everything about Liesel from her spunky personality to her care for everyone else to her habit of stealing books. Then there was her best friend Rudy. I loved Rudy for how he did not follow the racism of the time. Even as a child he knew what was right. Rosa was a bit hard to like at first, but by halfway through the book, I knew that she loved Hans and Liesel and that any of her cruelty was out of fear.

Hans had to be my favorite character. I loved his gentleness so much. He has such a kind heart and really made Liesel feel safe and happy. I loved Max for his bravery and his care for Liesel and his love of words.

The last character who really caught my heart was the mayor’s wife. She wasn’t a huge part of the book, but I found her intriguing. She was caring and damaged and really just interesting.

This really was a fantastic book. I give it 5 out of 5 stars.