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The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

In most books about the Holocaust, we are told the Jewish point of view: how they suffered, the concentration camps, and the prejudices that Nazis accompanied with them. However, The Book Thief is told from the German perspective, with the story of eight year old Liesel Meminger and her foster family. This story is unique, as it is told through the eyes of Death, who comments on everyone he encounters. Also, the book is frequently interrupted with extra information or drawings. These features make the book much more realistic.

Zusak’s point is to aware people on how real the Holocaust was, not only to Jews, but to Germans living in 1942 Germany. The Hubermanns (Liesel’s foster parents) and the other families on their street are faced with everyday challenges. All children must join Hitler Youth and wear uniforms. The program teaches the children basically how to salute, how to march, and how to be a “perfect” citizen in Herr Hitler’s mind. Also, many families go out of business because Jewish customers are taken from them. Liesel and her foster parents have to survive on pea soup for months on end.

The crisis only gets worse for the Hubermanns when a young man, Max Vandenburg, comes to their doorstep. He’s a Jew, and Liesel’s family has to hide him in their basement and care for him.

Liesel learns something new with every page. She knows depression from losing her brother and mother. She knows fear from the nightmares she gets every night. She knows hunger from starving every day. She slowly learns how to read, and she starts a growing collection of books. She likes books so much, that she steals them. How else would she get them in a time like World War II? Far more mature then your average child, Liesel teaches people years older than her.

I bet you that The Book Thief will make you laugh, cry, smile, frown, feel happiness and sadness, hope and fear. You will become engrossed in the story of Liesel, and you will be aware of the impacts of Nazi Germany. However, this book was not written to dwell on the past. It was created for a better future.



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