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Knowledge of our past is our inheritance. What we do with that knowledge will shape our destinies...

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Book Review: The Book Thief

I finally got around to reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak in December. Everyone always told me what a great book this is and I felt all left behind because I hadn't read it. Yeah, I totally LOVED it! I haven't seen the film yet, but now I really want to.

Plot: The Book Thief is the story of a young girl--who shares my name, btw. Yeah, that was weird. I hardly ever find other people with my name--who lives in a poor town right smack in the middle of Nazi Germany during World War II. Liesel's mother gives her up to another couple because she's incapable of caring for her daughter anymore. Liesel already has a lot of emotional baggage because her brother died on the train ride to her new home, and she's haunted by the abandonment of her mother. Liesel bonds with her foster parents in very different ways, and soon embarks on what, for someone in her place and time, is as normal as she could ask for. She goes to school and makes friends with a boy who's always asking if he can kiss her. She never lets him. She helps her parents with their work and gets to know the others in the small town; all their secrets and their lives.

Of course, there are the abnormal things, too. Everyone has to beware of the German soldiers who periodically walk through the town. Eventually a young Jewish man hiding from the Nazi's takes up residents in Liesel's home, hiding in the basement, which increases the danger. And when the sirens go off, everyone in town jumps out of bed in their pjs and heads for the basement bomb shelters.

Then there's Liesel's love of reading. Her father teaches her how, and not only does she swipe a number of books when the opportunities present themselves, but even makes friends with the wife of the wealthy mayor, who has an entire library in her house. Soon enough, Liesel graduates from just reading books to writing her own, complete with illustrations, but Nazi Germany is full of hardship and tragedy that means nothing will stay the same for long...

Writing: This books is written in a different format than most, but it's fabulous! It's narrated, not by the characters themselves, but by death, who crosses paths with Liesel many times in her life. Each time he sees her, he is impressed by her character and emotional stamina; by the fact that he often gathers up the souls of many of those around her, but never her. Telling the story this way is beautiful and tragic, and one you just can't stop reading. Or crying over. I cried off and on throughout the book while reading it, but sobbed uncontrollably through the ending. Yet, I loved it. I told my brothers they all had to read it. It's the kind of story everyone should read once.

In a way, it's the perfect story for me because it combines history and tragedy and beauty in a way no one else has ever done. World War II has never been my favorite historical period, but this is exactly the kind of book that makes me want to re-think my preferences. If you haven't read this, squeeze it into your reading schedule, ASAP. It just might change your life. 

Has anyone else read The Book Thief?


  1. The Book Thief is one of my favorite books! It's just such a beautiful story, and even though it's bittersweet, I love it to death (no pun intended?). I agree that it combines tragedy and beauty really well - it's the only book that gets me sobbing every single time I read it.

    - Kritika @ Snowflakes & Spider Silk

  2. I read The Book Thief a couple of years ago and I loved it. I'm glad you enjoyed it too. I'm looking forward to seeing the film with some trepidation as I'm not sure it could ever live up to it!