The Book Thief by Markus Zusak | Teen Ink

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

October 1, 2009
By miss_readaholic BRONZE, San Francisco, California
miss_readaholic BRONZE, San Francisco, California
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

In Nazi Germany of 1939, everyone is stealing something, whether it be lives, words or identities. And for Liesel Meminger, a skinny and seemingly ordinary girl, it’s books. With the stealing of her first book by her brother’s grave, her desire to read sparks. Soon after, she is moved away from her mother and into a foster home. But the death of her brother haunts her and every night Liesel wakes up screaming from a nightmare. It is during this time that Papa, her foster father, comes to sit by her bed. Upon discovering the book one night, Papa begins teaching her to read. Liesel begins to hunger for more books and is soon stealing books from everywhere she can find. She builds a world out of books and words and it’s through these things that her relationships with everyone---from the Jewish fist-fighter in her basement to the mayor’s wife---begins to evolve.

But nothing can remain the same as the war goes on, as her foster father is forced to work in the army and Liesel and her friends must join Hitler Youth. Liesel learns that even though she is not the one fighting, the war can still destroy almost everything that she holds dear.

The Book Thief is an enduring story that starts with a single idea: the power of words. Everything in this book is held together with the idea of words---Liesel, her books, her friendships, her family and her world. The unforgettable pictures that Markus Zusak paints with his words pulled me it to the story and wouldn’t let go. The downtrodden town that he describes is both ordinarily simple and drastically different then any place you’ve ever imagined. Liesel may be an adolescent girl, but Zusak has created a memorable main character with desires, hopes and dreams that almost everyone can relate to.

The narrator of The Book Thief is someone that is ever present during the war---Death. Death tells the story unflinchingly and grimly humorous in a way that gives the story more depth and layer,. Though the elements and narrator of this story are depressing, the humor and life are always underlying threads in the fabric of this book.

The Book Thief is thought provoking, funny, tough and intense. It’s not only a story about the effect of war; it’s a story of growing up, death and friendship all told in this one tale about a girl. It is a story that reflects the things that we all think about. It is a story for everyone.

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