Book Review: The Book Thief

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

This book has touched me in the most inexplicable way, that it is really hard for me to decide what I was feeling while I read it. Joy, sadness, anger, laughter, pity, disgust, etc. Name an emotion, and I probably felt it – all at the same time!

Set in Nazi Germany, a young foster child named Liesel Meminger, who is unable to read, finds a book shortly after her brother dies and wants to know more about it. After being put to live with foster parents, she goes to school. From there, and with help from her foster father, Liesel learns to read, eventually leading to a love of reading and a bad habit – stealing books.

She shares the love of reading and books with those she is with during the bombing raids. But the one she wants to share this passion with most is one she has to visit with much caution – the Jew her foster parents are hiding in their basement.

This book is not written like most other books I have read. I’ve heard people describe it as experimental literature. The thing that I thought was most interesting about this book is the fact that this story is narrated by Death, a being whom most people believe to be dark and haunting. But Zusak uses Death to narrate in such a way so that you aren’t compelled to sympathize with the Jews, but to look at the story as just how things were at the time of the Holocaust. Also, this story revolves around a little German girl, not a Jew like you find in most novels about the events of WWII. It gives a different point of view into the other side.

This book though, is not for everyone. If you’re not open to a different style of narration, it may be hard to fall in love with the beauty Zusak presents in his writing. Also, like most Holocaust literature, it isn’t a pleasant read either. There is a bit of dirty language (most of which is in German and doesn’t mean anything to me, but Death translates it for you) and the relationships formed between some people aren’t always as nice as we would like to read, but necessary for character development. There are also several upsetting events that happen. Nevertheless, this book is still worth reading!

I give this book 4.5 stars.