Knopf, 550 pages
"It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . . Narrated by Death, Markus Zusak's groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a young foster girl living outside of Munich in Nazi Germany. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she discovers something she can't resist- books. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor's wife's library, wherever they are to be found. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, Liesel learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids, as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement."
Upon reading The Book Thief, I had heard nothing but rave reviews. After delving into what the story was about, I decided this was a must read. The cover also gives an insight as to what it's about. With the dominoes about to tower over you can only imagine what kind of symbolism this represents. This novel was breath taking and sad, very sad.
One of the aspects that made this book stand out was the narrator. Death narrates the story with a sense of guilt for what it eventually must do. This unique perspective intrigued me from the very first page. Especially in the dark times in Nazi Germany, Death is often visiting.
The characters in this book were wonderful. Liesel Meminger is a young German girl who is sent to live under foster care after her mother must leave her. For being such a young girl, she was quite strong. She holds her own in this novel and her love for books is something I can easily relate to. Hans Hubermann is Liesel's foster father and is one of my favorite characters. He is gentle, kind, and friendly. Not to mention he plays an accordion and helps Liesel learn to read. The reason I liked him so much was because of his relationship with Liesel and his caring nature. Rosa Hubermann, Liesel's foster mother, is quite the opposite of Hans. She is feisty, stubborn, and loud. Although, it doesn't seem like she has love for Liesel, it is ever present, just not shown like Hans does. Rudy Steiner was another one of my favorites. He is Liesel's best friend. Rudy is forever asking Liesel to kiss him. It's one of those innocent relationships you can't help but find sweet and cute. Rudy is also sort of obnoxious and ambitious and steals food/books with Liesel. Another part I loved was Liesel's relationship with Max. Max was the Jew that the Hubermanns hid in their basement. Liesel shared a love for reading with him and the stories Max wrote were stunning. He meant a lot to the family. The characters in this novel are true and what make this book amazing.
The writing in this book was what truly blew me away. It was practically poetic and effortless. With that being said, this book was not the quickest of reads. I didn't find it tough to finish, I just found it best to not rush through it and instead absorb the story. Even though it was a slower read, it was still a page turner. I think The Book Thief is just so different from your typical young adult fiction novel. It deals with heavy subjects, but lightens them enough to make for an incredible story that I personally think someone older would enjoy, not only teens.
The Book Thief definitely has a powerful impression. Considering the circumstances everyone was in, Liesel and her family remained somewhat optimistic. The themes were strong in friendship and how words or literature has impacted society. Finding the courage to move past the hatred Hitler has stung at the time can be a struggle, and this book shows it.
The ending of this book is seriously so sad. If you cry easily, then you may find yourself bawling by the end. It's sort of inevitable, but I was satisfied. If this was a book you were considering to read, I'd say go for it you will not be disappointed!
Rating: 5 stars - I loved it! Buy a copy!