Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
March 2006, Knopf Books for Young Readers
550 pages
Good Reads + Amazon
5/5 stars

"By her brother's graveside, Liesel Meminger's life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Grave Digger's Handbook, left there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordion-playing foster father  learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor's wife's library, wherever there are books to be found.
But these are dangerous times. When Liesel's foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel's world is both opened up and closed down."
-The Book Thief back cover synopsis

A human doesn't have a heart like mine. The human heart is a line, whereas my own is a circle, and I have the endless ability to be in the right place at the right time. The consequence of this is that I'm always finding humans at their best and worst. I see their ugly and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both. Still, they have one thing I envy. Humans, if nothing else, have the good sense to die.
- The Book Thief, pg. 491

I was absolutely convinced that I would not like this book. I forced myself into reading it, resolved that at the end of the 550 (excruciating, I thought) pages, I'd breathe a sigh of relief, pat myself on the back for my accomplishment (because now I can at least say that I've read it), and move on with my life. Instead, it is nearly 2 in the morning, I've finally finished crying, and a heavy weight is sitting on my chest. And I can promise you - I am not usually melodramatic when it comes to books. 

The Book Thief was one of, if not the most, beautifully written books that I have ever read in my entire life. 

But I am getting ahead of myself.

The Book Thief is the story of five Germans - a young girl named Liesel, her foster parents Rosa and Hans, a Jewish man named Max who they shelter, and Liesel's best friend Rudy - who live during Hitler's rise to power in Nazi Germany. Their story is told through the eyes of the omnipresent Death, who often interrupts the story to offer his own insights and opinions regarding the state of the world during that time period and commentary on the various characters and their doings. Death leads us through their stories, allowing us to witness the horrors of their struggles and yet revel in the beauty that they experience.

This book was... amazing. I don't know how else to put it. I've read several titles that surround the events of the Holocaust and WWII (Number the Stars, Night, etc.) and while each have been powerful in its own way, The Book Thief was different. I read somewhere that the writing style is considered "experimental" - that is, Death often interrupts the main story line to give small anecdotes and his own personal opinions... which makes The Book Thief a rather slow read... but I don't mean boring or dry. I often found myself taking a half hour to devour ten pages because I didn't want to miss a single concept or idea.

I don't know what else to say. The Book Thief was an amazing read and an instant favorite for me. I felt rather daunted by the task of reading it and put it off for so long... but am so glad that I finally decided to pick it up. If you are like me and are shying away from reading it, please do yourself a favor - just read it.

I will be making a video review of The Book Thief for Youtube... so if you're interested in that, please keep an eye open.

Well, that's all guys!

(Go read The Book Thief... NOW!)

Happy reading!


  1. Nice review, this is one of my all-time favorite books, so I am glad you liked it.

    1. Yeah, it was an instant favorite for me too... Thank you for the comment!

  2. I have this one but haven't read it yet I should haha!

    1. YES! DEFINITELY! Bump it up on your pile! I put it off for sooooo long but it was amazing!