Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Title/Author: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Publisher/Date published: The House of Books, originally published by Picador in 2005
How I got this book: borrowed it from my mom (I actually gave it to her for Mother's Day and then told her I wanted to read it next)
Why I read this book: I'd heard such great things about it from people in the College Students group on GoodReads.

Goodreads summary: "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. . . .
Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she 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 before he is marched to Dachau.
This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul."

When Death tells a story, you'd better listen!

And I did. I listened to this story and I lived through a part of Liesel's life and it still lingers with me. Rudy especially, he and Hans Hubermann are my favourite characters of this book. I love Liesel as well, but these two are dearest to me.

I almost never read books about World War II, because it seems to close to home, I live in the Netherlands and my grandma never talked about this period, even though she always told me about her childhood and when my mom and uncles were little, so I'm guessing it was a difficult time for her as well. It always makes me so sad to think of all the families that were torn apart and all the senseless killing that went on. I went to a concentration camp near Prague once with my high school and it was horrible knowing that so many people died there.

Anyway, back to the book: Liesel is adopted by Hans and Rosa Hubermann, who already have two grown children of their own who don't live with them anymore. Hans is the most kindhearted man you'll ever meet and he sleeps in a chair next to Liesel's bed almost every night because of her nightmares. He's also the one that teaches her how to read and I think she couldn't have had a better father. Rosa calls everyone Saukerl or Saumensch (which means as much as swine-man or woman), but deep inside she has a huge heart and loves Liesel and Hans very much.
Liesel soon finds a friend in Rudy, a boy with lemoncoloured hair and an amazing spirit.

The times are difficult for the family, because Hans helped Jewish people and isn't a member of the Nazi Party he gets less and less work and because nobody has money to spare, the income from Rosa's laundry dwindles as well. To top it off, they have to feed an extra mouth: a Jewish man named Max who is hiding in their basement. I thought is was wonderful to see that Hans and Rosa were so generous, they took Liesel in, would have taken in her brother as well if he hadn't died on the way there and they helped Max survive.

I loved that it was told by Death and the suspense Zusak created by having him tell us what was going to happen, because every time I wished it wouldn't. I was rooting so hard for something I can't mention here, because there would be major spoilers, NOT to happen and I cried when it did.
I loved Death's voice, he says things like:
'A small fact, you're going to die. Does this worry you?'
And I love it!

Rudy is the boy I would have loved being friends with when I was younger and he reminds me somewhat of my best friend when I was little. I was rooting for him to be kissed by Liesel at least once. He's such an undervalued hero in his own way, giving bread to the Jewish people on their march to Dachau.

I thought the ending was incredibly sad and I cried for all the characters, because they had become so dear to me. This book is just beautiful and I think everyone should read it. I've heard people classify it as YA, but in my opinion there's no age category, you can enjoy a good story no matter how old you are.

My rating: 5 stars


  1. Such a wonderful book. I've actually been to Germany where the story takes place. I've seen the Dachau camp, and it was very eerie to read the book after visiting the camp.(not to mention it was a heartbreaking feeling just seeing the camp in general)

    I loved Rudy too, such a cute kid. Death telling the story definitely made it better in my opinion too. It added something that I'm not sure would have been so good if he hadn't.

    Great review!

  2. I adored this book! I read it several years ago, and now I want to read it again. I loved Death as a narrator, the way he would drop a gigantic hint about what was going to happen and then move on, and you'd forget about it until it actually happened. I sobbed and sobbed at the end; I remember sitting in bed, reading the final pages, with tears just streaming down my face. Definitely one of my very favorite books!

  3. One of my top YA books and a book that I am constantly recommending to everyone. I've yet to meet someone who did not love this book. Like previous commentator, I also had tears running down my face as I read the last few chapters.

  4. Such a great review! I'll have to read the book now :)

  5. Glad you loved it so much and that we didn't let you down in the CS group! :)

  6. I have heard lots of good things about this book, and I plan on reading it after reading your review. Thanks for posting!