Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak Book Review

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
(Paperback, Knopf)

Liesel Meminger's life is turned upside down when her younger brother dies. Not only is her family torn apart forever but she also steals her first book. Set in Nazi Germany during World War II, Liesel's penchant for stealing books will affect her life and the lives of everyone she knows. Liesel's foster father teaches her to read, little by little each night. When the family hides a Jew in the basement, Liesel realizes that the world is not so black and white, and that words have power beyond anything she could have imagined.

Wow. That pretty much sums up how I feel about this book. It's a bit hard to get into at first, but it's impossible to put down once you get into it. After I finished the book, I asked myself why it was so hard to get into the story. I think that it is because the book is narrated by Death. Death gives us little snippets of things to come as the book progresses. Nothing is ever rushed and nothing is ever a complete surprise. Which makes sense because we all know that our lives will end with death. Death is the antithesis of suspense and Zusak does a good job of creating a story with that in mind. Despite the fact that you know how some characters' lives will end, the book is still a page turner because it doesn't completely reveal everything. Liesel's story is powerful. Not only does it portray average German citizens in a sympathetic light, but it touches on the power of words and books in our lives. I'm not doing the book justice in my description here, but, believe me, if you love books, and I'm sure you do if found your way to my blog, then this book will resonate with you. There are only a handful of books that have made me cry and I was practically sobbing during the last 50 pages of this one. Plus, Death is hands down the best narrator that I've ever read.

In Zusak's words,
"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" (p. 5)

In my words,
It's a must-read story about, and so much more than:
*A book lover
*Some small town Germans
*A boy with lemon colored hair
*Some words written in a basement
*A book burning
*And quite a lot of souls

My words about this book are horribly inadequate, so I'll leave you with this vlog from Beth Kephart about The Book Thief.


  1. You know, I tried to get into this. I really did. I attempted to read it quite a few times at the insisting of friends, but I could never finish. I just didn't like it.

  2. I loved the Book Thief. I was just talking about it with a co-worker today. She finally read it and couldn't stop crying at the end. I always warn customers to finish the Book Thief some where private, because you will cry, hard. No one gave me this warning but luckily I finished the Book Thief at home.

  3. Em, Wow. I'm so glad you read this, got through it. And I sobbed, too—just could not stop sobbing. Thank for linking to my vlog, one of the very first I made.

    It's instructive, too, to hear that Death was a sometimes difficult narrator to lean into at first.

  4. I've heard so many good things about this book. I'll move it up the tbr pile

  5. I WAS sobbing during the last 50 pages and continued to do so for about an hour after I was done. Seriously, my husband thought something was wrong with me...I've never reacted to a book like that! It was written in the most amazing way, with such realistic characters. I'm so glad you were able to get into it!

  6. It's an amazing book for me too and I also cried a few times while reading it. The one with Max and Liesl was terribly heartbreaking...

    One of the best books I've ever read!

  7. "wow" pretty much sums it up, yes. It took me over 50 pages to get into it too, but once I

  8. One of my favorite books. I'm so blessed to have met Markus too and get it signed.

  9. I was sobbing at the end as well:P
    One of my favourite books. Wonderful.

  10. I'm glad you enjoyed this. I just added Getting the Girl and Fighting Ruben Wolfe to my list.


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