The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

October 1, 2009
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The book thief is a wonderful and loving girl named Liesel Meminger, who is growing up in Nazi Germany during World War II. Her brother died early in her life and her mother abandoned her around that time. She is watched and recorded by Death as he continues to collect bodies from her experiences, because he became fascinated by her life from the minute he saw her steal her first book near her brother’s grave. As she learns to read with her foster father Hans, and goes through many adventures with her best friend Rudy, she learns about love, caring and risk. Her life is carefree and fun even though she owns next to nothing and the war is going on right in the city where she lives. As she continues to mature, she steals books from the mayor’s library and book burnings, and she’s always on the lookout for more. She also begins to write her own story and believe in herself. Someone who showed her writing was the mayor’s wife:“She gave her a reason to write her own words, to see that words had also brought her to life. “Don’t punish yourself,” she heard her say again, but there would be punishment and pain, and there would be happiness too. That was writing.”(pg.524).
As the war progresses and young Jew named Max Vandenburg comes to Hans, asking to hide in their basement from the Nazis, Liesel’s world grows. She becomes close friends with Max, reading him stories and telling him about the world above. They have an understanding of each other that only could be compared to the one that Liesel and her foster father share. The Nazis continue to terrorize and soon her world is turned upside down. How will Liesel become the soul-stirring character that she is? How does her relationships with her friends and family change through the book? Markus Zusak answers these questions and more in this wonderful historical fiction book.
The Book Thief is one of the most unusual books I have ever read because it showed me a world where anything could change at any moment for both the better and the worse. One of my favorite characters is Rudy because he and Liesel had a brother-sister relationship that was so close that I felt that Liesel couldn’t have been who she turned out to be if she hadn’t met Rudy. I also enjoyed the character of Hans Hubermann (Papa), who was Liesel’s advisor, mentor and hero. Hans is a man who is so caring and passionate about making Liesel happy, that he inspired me to love my family the same way he loved Liesel. Death is the narrator of this book, which gives it a different perspective from other World War II books, so it was an unique experience because it had a distinctive humor and mood that I hadn’t seen in many other books. It also is a story of a German girl during the Holocaust. Zusak also uses flash forwards in the middle of chapters, which give you a taste of what’s to come, but doesn’t completely give away the ending.
This book is enjoyable to all ages, especially from teenagers to adults. Also, anyone who wants enjoys reading Holocaust and World War II books should read this. Markus Zusak has written three other books, Fighting Ruben Wolfe, Getting the Girl and I am the Messenger. I’m sure his other books are just as well-written as this one was, because to me, The Book Thief was one of the most detailed and genius books I have ever read. This book deserves to be read for generations to come, so please read, enjoy, and learn with Liesel in The Book Thief.





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