The Book Thief

The Book Thief by: Markus Zusak

Challenges: TBR Challenge

Published: 2006

# of pages: 550

Quote: “‘Saukerl,’ she laughed, and as she held up her hand, she knew completely that he was simultaneously calling her a Saumensch. I think that’s as close to love as eleven-year-olds can get.” -Liesel & Rudy p. 144

I loved this book! That pretty much sums it all up. I can’t say everything that I want to say without revealing spoilers, but there is so much depth to the novel, more than I write about in this post. This would be a great novel to read for a book club and then discuss.

The story is narrated by Death, who tells the story of Liesel Meminger. Liesel is a familiar name to me because it’s my sister’s family nickname (from “The Sound of Music”). Liesel’s life changes drastically as she travels on a train to the town of Molching, to live with a foster mother and father. Her brother dies on the journey, and that is her first meeting with Death. He is fascinated by the girl and ends up passing her 2 more times. On the third time he picks up her story, The Book Thief.

I enjoyed how Death tells Liesel’s story. He could have introduced himself and then went on to read Liesel’s story, or tell it in her words, but he makes it his own. It’s not only a story about Liesel, it’s a story about the people in Molching and the victims of WWII. Also, Liesel’s new family, the Hubermanns, are unique and loveable characters, even Mrs. Hubermann. Zusak developed their characters and their stories perfectly. They did not agree with Hitler’s persecution of the Jews, but I liked how it wasn’t that they felt they were better than everyone else, or that they had a vague sense of morality that other Germans didn’t have, it explains why they felt like they did. It was a progression.

I was surprised at how this book made me feel about death. It actually kind of made me feel better about it. I like the image of Death walking around, watching the sky and gathering up souls. I should already feel comfortable with death and I know that Zusak’s idea is not really correct, souls either go to heaven or hell depending on if they have accepted Christ’s love or not, but maybe there is some sort of angel of death or something who is like the character Death in the novel. And I think the way Zusak portrays Death could very well be how God feels about war, or how angels feel. Beings who are removed from the world, but still watching. They can have pity and compassion on both sides, but still recognize evil in the midst of good and good in the midst of evil.

Overall, I recommend this book to young adults and adults everywhere. There are a few bad words, but most of those are in German. Even then, it isn’t overwhelming.

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