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The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

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Mourning her brother’s sudden death, Liesel, a 10 year old with an unfortunate past and future, finds a small book called The Grave Digger’s Handbook by her sibling’s graveside. After losing her younger brother, next she must find the strength to leave her mother, and be brought up by foster parents. Hans Hubermann, her accordion- playing new father, and Rosa, her stubborn, but loveable new mother, find room for Liesel in their small home in the poorest section in the city: Himmel Street. Liesel, still very upset and disturbed by her brother’s death, finds herself waking up with a wet bed, after a nightmare. During those daily times, Hans, her sweet, persistent father teaches her to read, using her beloved book. As Liesel finally learns to read, she and her always hungry, fast-running best friend Rudy start stealing together. After many crates of apples and potatoes, Liesel and Rudy find their way to the mayor’s library with an excitement to steal. During a time of easily discovered secrets, Liesel and her family hide a Jew in their basement. Liesel finds herself befriending Max (the Jew in her basement) with their love of literature. Liesel is doing fine, but little does she know that the war that she is supposed to believe in, is just about to make a dramatic twist that’s heading her way.

Markus Zusak does an amazing job of creating a book for all tastes. The Book Thief is a sad book with jokes, hilarious failures and the joy of learning how to swear in German. Being set in Germany during World War II, The Book Thief is also filled with violence and a smidgen of romance. Added to this mix of all tastes, and an interesting theme, is an intriguing writing style. The following passage exemplifies Zusak’s dark style:
“The rubble just climbed higher. Concrete hills with caps of red. A beautiful tear-stomped girl shaking the dead.” (p. #535)
This book is a very moving piece of writing, and is a great read for middle school kids to adults. It was a significant book and I couldn’t put it down.





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