Book Review: Book Thief

I have recently finished reading The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. I found the book to be very interesting and very engaging. For all of those who have not read it yet, I will be giving some of the plot away (spoiler alert), so if you plan on reading it and are like me, read this post after you have read the book or watched the movie (which I have yet to see).

The story was set in the German town of Molching. A girl giving up by her mother, taken in by a German family during World War II, a girl for a penchant for stealing books and other things, and a very interesting family dynamic and a best friend. A story of survival and lost. Friendship and courage are great themes that run throughout the book.

It took me a couple of chapters to get used to the writing style that was used in the Book Thief. It took time for me to adjust to the bold, additional information that was being given. Once I got used to it, which really did not take too long, I could not put the book down. Every spare moment I got I would read a few pages here and there. One of the reasons that I became so enamored with the book was that it was written from very unique perspective. I loved that the author used the grim reaper as the narrator of the story. I feel that it added depth and set the book apart from most other World War II fiction books. The story of a girl, who had lost her brother and whose mom gave her up was a very interesting story line to me. I really loved the two very different personalities that the author gave the family that took the young girl in. The man was this peaceful, pipe-smoking, accordion player. The woman was this irritable, fiery tempered lady who could be set off by the slightest thing. Yet as one comes to find out when they read the book, the woman really has a soft spot for the girl and her husband and the Jew that they hide in their basement.

I thought it was smart and clever on Zusak’s part to give away part of the plot early on because it was a heavy load. In a book where many of the main characters are killed, it softened the blow a little to know what was ahead. One of the most enjoyable parts of the book is the fact that Liesel (the main character) learned to read, with the help of her uncle reading the gravediggers handbook. 

Another one of my favorite aspects of the book was how her neighbor Rudy was totally in love with Liesel and kept on pestering her to kiss him. I was glad that after Rudy and his family was killed by a bomb, that Liesel finally gives him that kiss that he was seeking after for all that time. Rudy was a great friend, willing to do anything for Liesel, even willing to get whipped by Nazi officers.

It was a very moving book. I love how it captured a girl’s will to overcome impossible odds, breakdown barriers and hide her Jewish friend. She was a great main character, loved that she stole books to read and her passion for reading saved her life during the bombings that took out everyone else. I wish that at least her adopted father Papa, would have lived. He was such a great character showing love and kindness to Liesel, like she was his own child, calming all of her fears. Keeping a promise he made to an old war buddy, by hiding his Jewish son in the basement of his home, even though it made their home a very dangerous place to be.

Overall, it was one of the best books that I have read in a while. I would definitely recommend reading it.

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