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The Book Theif by Markus Zusack

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Words of Hope:
A Review of The Book Thief by Markus Zusack


The Book Thief by Markus Zusack is an action-packed book that really makes you think. The plot has twists and turns almost unimaginable. It is the kind of book that one never wants to end. It is a story of tragedy and hope, and I am so grateful to Zusack for his genius in writing this.
Liesel, a young girl found homeless by the war, has just been taken in to a foster home of sorts on Himmel Street, which is ironically named, considering “Himmel” mean s heaven in German. Yes, Liesel is living in the war-torn land on Nazi Germany at the beginning of World War II, and almost nothing is heavenly. With the death of her brother and loss of her mother, Liesel is confused and sad as she arrives at the Hubermann residence. Her nightmares haunt her each night, and her only comfort is from Hans Hubermann, whom she soon begins to call Papa, and Rosa Hubermann, whom she calls Mama.
As Liesel adjusts to her new home, she makes two great new friends. The first, Rudy Steiner, is her next-door neighbor. Soon, they get into all kinds of mischief together, which mostly consists of stealing. The two friends play soccer with each other, and hold running races, due to Rudy’s undying love of Jesse Owens.
Liesel’s second friend isn’t as open as Rudy. Her second friend comes in the form of a Jewish fist-fighter, Max Vandenberg, who takes refuge in the Hubermanns basement to hide from the atrocities of the war. Ironically, Hitler’s autobiography Mein Kampf helps both save Max from certain arrest, and entertain the frightened Jew as he spends his days in the basement. Max paints over the pages of the terrible book to create a comic book of sorts for Liesel. In the many hours Liesel spends with him, they become the best of friends, sharing dreams and life experiences, and giving each other the most basic of gifts.
Throughout the course of the next year, Liesel continues to steal with Rudy, but instead of food and trinket items, she takes a new focus: books. She scours the small town for books, as her own were burned in celebration of Adolf Hitler’s birthday. The books calm and soothe her scared community during bombings and air raid drills. As she reads the stories to the vast amount of people taking shelter in basements deemed “safe”, she creates a feeling of happiness and hope among her neighbors.
In conclusion, The Book Thief is a staple in any library or bookshelf. The hardships that Liesel must overcome are so realistic, and you find yourself sympathizing with the characters again and again. The narrator’s strange identity gives the book a very interesting point of view. As you read, you recognize bits of yourself in the characters, and they become even more relatable. Zusack really has a good understanding of the human nature, and he has a great way with words.





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