Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Book Thief [book review]

this book made a huge impact on me, and along with the fact that I really just want to review it, I honestly don't feel that I could accurately describe the plot and impact of The Book Thief (uh, and I'm lazy this week), I'm borrowing this description from GoodReads:

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.

I won't lie... it took me a long time to get into this book... months, in fact. I started this book on March 6th and finished it on August 5th... took me almost 5 months exactly to read it. that's not to say that I spent a continuous amount of time trucking through it during those 5 months, because I've obviously been reading other things since March... but I got to a certain point in the book where I was completely and utterly STUCK. I wasn't sure whether the story line just leveled out or if the narration was annoying me too much to want to pick it up, but I put it down on page 80 in April and picked it back up in July and finished it in about 2 weeks. 


as a whole, I really enjoyed this book a lot. it took me a bit of time to get familiar with the narration, but through the eyes of Death, a beautifully developed and heartwarming story unfolded. any author who can turn Death into a positive voice with true emotions and connections to the souls he must take will receive a standing ovation from me. I should also mention at this point that if you only like books that are happy and are all wrapped up together nicely with a bow on top, you should not read this book. this is a book centrally located within the confines of Nazi Germany and there are many tragic and painful events that take place... I physically cringed several times. 

the relationship between Liesel and her books is so special, it's as if the books are human beings, with whom she is completely infatuated with. Liesel's innocence and childlike naivety make her an especially likable character, and her genuine curiosity into the world of literature helps to shape her personality throughout the years. the several other relationships within the novel flow together organically and allow you to really know and love those in Liesel's life as they grow with her. from her Papa, who heroically takes on the task of teaching her to read, to her best friend Rudy, whom she playfully taunts through their whole lives... the entire cast is displayed vividly and with a certain care that makes you cherish them immensely. 

as I said, I think Zusak did a fantastic job with this book, and while some parts are truly heart wrenching, the overall message is astounding. it shows how the power of words can influence the minds of those who learn to appreciate them... either in the way of propaganda in a time of war and destruction, or in the way of discovery and hopefulness in the eyes of a young girl. 


  1. I agreed on a lot of your points and experienced a lot of the same reactions. I very much loved this book!

  2. It's good that you cringed; it's what the author wants you to feel, you know? The mark of a good book isn't that always it leaves you feeling happy and satisfied, but that it leaves you *feeling*.

  3. yes, that is SO very true! I am so impressed by Zusak's work... I'm certainly going to pick up another one of his books!


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