The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

Posted 19 January, 2008 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 15 Comments

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Title: The Book Thief
Author: Markus Zusak
Date Finished: Jan 19,2008
Yearly Count: 4
Pages: 550
Rating: 5/5

I’ve been putting off this post for a while because I’m not quite sure how to approach this book. So many have read it and reviewed it, but for whatever reason I haven’t been able to get ahold of my thoughts. But…times a tickin’ so its time to get on with it.

The Book Thief is the story of a young girl, Liesel, in Nazi Germany told through Death’s narration. Yes, Death personified. Death becomes interested in Liesel’s story when he comes to pick up her brother after he dies; Death, against his better judgment, goes to the funeral and sees little Liesel picking up a book from the snow—her first act of book thievery. Shortly after Liesel’s brother dies, her mother moves her to a foster home on Himmel Street where her world is quickly turned upside down. Her world and everyone else’s. (While I don’t think I can possibly cut this short, I will not give spoilers).

Liesel’s new living situation is not easy. Her new Mama is slightly abusive and walks all over her and her new Papa. Papa, though, takes Liesel under his wing as he comforts her during her nightmares and teaches her to read her stolen book. Liesel also finds sanctuary when chumming around with her new friend Rudy as well as in the mayor’s wife’s library where she retreats after she delivers and picks up the laundry for Mama.

But everything changes when one day a strange man shows up at the house looking for Liesel’s Papa. Max is a Jew. He has left his family, gone into hiding, and is barely surviving. Papa has made a promise to help Max, so it is agreed that Max can live in the basement. At first Liesel is a little frightened of Max, but soon they grow to be good friends—especially when Liesel realizes that Max also has nightmares. But, keeping a Jew in the basement is dangerous. Just as giving bread to Jews as they march to the concentration camp, as Papa does, is dangerous. Everything in Nazi Germany has its consequences.

After reading stellar reviews about this book in the blogosphere for the past six months, I was finally able to get my hands on a copy. I devoured the 550 pages in a few short days (don’t let the label of YA fool you—this is a rich novel). While sometimes I flew through the chapters, there were others where I was so overcome by emotion that every word took effort to absorb. But what I found so fitting in this novel, so perfect, was that it is about words. The power of words and what we are with them—and without them. How words can bring an unlikely person into power and consequently change the world as we know it.

This is a beautiful book and it will stick with me for a long time. I loved Death’s narration; his style is effortlessly engaging—sometimes witty, sometimes unbearably true. And while I’m not quite sure what I will do with what I took away from this book, I will continue to pass this book on to others. I hope you’ll read it, too.

15 Responses to “The Book Thief – Markus Zusak”

  1. I will most definitely read it. Beautiful review, Trish. Several bloggers I know have reviewed this one and every single one gave it a top rating. This really seems to be an unforgettable book.

  2. cj

    OH! I missed this post!

    I’m glad you enjoyed this one – it’s an amazing book and deserves every good thing we can say about it! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    cjh

  3. *Wendy – So many emotions from reading this book! I’m glad it came so highly recommended!

    *Nymeth – I really think you would like this book. I don’t think I’ve read a bad review either; the book is really done well.

    *Joy – I love when that happens! Its always a big bummer when a book doesn’t live up to expectations.

    *CJ – I just posted it, but didn’t change the original date, so I think it will get missed by a lot of readers. Although in this case I didn’t write the posts in order, I still like to keep them chronological based on when I finished the book. Oh well!

  4. This was one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read. After I returned it to the library, I mentioned to my husband that I had to buy this book for our library. A couple of days later, while at the library again, my husband walked out with this book in his hand. I asked why he had The Book Thief as I just returned it, and he said that it was in the book sale area for 25 cents! A real find!

    Great review!

  5. *Framed – Yes, it was a great book. I hope to pass it on to my sister this evening!

    *Maw Books – Excellent find! I had hoped to find a used copy, but after months of searching I finally broked down and bought my copy at Barnes and Nobel. But it’s one that I will revisit myself and pass around to others. Curious to know whether your husband enjoyed it…?

  6. My husband did not grow up a reader. The first book he ever read as an adult was the 4th or 5th Harry Potter, after he listened to the first ones on audio. He said it was amazing! He is currently writing a sci-fi book which I think is quite entertaining as he’s not a reader. He keeps asking me all these questions (I don’t read sci-fi though) and I just keep telling him, READ!

    So this year he has already read 4 books, which is nothing but amazing to me. He has The Book Thief on his list, but not sure when he’ll get to it. Right now, he’s reading Twilight. Yes! Twilight. He, he.

  7. *Maw Books – Funny–I had to look up Twilight and had to giggle a little when I saw which book you were referring to. I’ve seen those around a lot and heard good things about them, but haven’t actually picked any up myself.

    My husband isn’t a reader either–and HP was actually the first set of books he read/has read in a long time. I haven’t been able to entice him with anything since then. I figure I read enough for the both of us, though.

  8. Hi. I like your review. I’ve read the book too and thought it was a pretty touching story. The end felt a bit Mitch Albom-ish, but still, I enjoyed it and would recommend it to others.
    I wrote my own review at readingmonk.wordpress.com

  9. Reading Monk–thanks for coming by! I thought this story was incredibly touching. I feel kind of “eh” about Albom, so I’m not sure you saying the ending reminds of of his endings is a good thing, but it’s interesting to get everyone’s points of view!

  10. I think I am going to add this one to my TBR list for the Book Blogger Buddy Challenge. It looks so fascinating! I am not always one for very long books, but as I read several at a time anyway, I should be fine! ;) It looks fascinating.