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The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

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Liesel Meminger, a ten year old German girl, is haunted by the memory of watching her young brother die and has only one thing to remember him by, a book lying in the snow. The Gravedigger’s Handbook is the beginning to a relationship with words that sends Liesel reeling in an attempt to understand the world. She is left in a small town called Molching by her mother and is taken care of by her foster parents the Hubermann’s. With the help of her new papa Hans, an accordion playing painter, she begins to learn how to read from her first stolen book. Her life is turned beyond her understanding when a Jew arrives at their doorstep, seeking shelter from the Nazi regime. Liesel gains a new understanding for the power of words and the beauty and the hideousness of people as the Second World War is raging on their doorstep. The Book Thief learns what it is like to love and to lose as Death narrates her story.

Markus Zusak tells an intense, dark tale through the eyes of the one who knows it best. The idea to use Death as the narrator is a stroke of genius in itself. The story is told in a mainly matter-of-fact way; it is straightforward and in some ways adds to the emotional impact of the conclusion. The Book Thief gives us an insight into the side of World War II most of us don’t think about, the German side. It shows the human race at its greatest and at its weakest. Markus Zusak shows us, to quote the book, that “the same thing can be so ugly and so glorious.”
There were a few things about the way the book was written that bothered me but that should be no deterrent. The Book Thief is more than worth picking up.
I recommend this to anyone who wants to read a thrilling novel with strong characters and a developed, interesting plot. It is a tremendously solemn book but is worth the emotion. If I had to say who would enjoy it most I suppose I would have to say fans of Historical Fiction but that isn’t intended to turn away any other readers.



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