SYNOPSIS: (Forgive me I’m bad at these) Set between the years 1939-1942, The Book Thief tells the story (through our narrator, Death) of Liesel Meminger a young girl growing up in Nazi Germany. There are a lot a sad circumstances in Liesel’s young life, but the main focus of the book is her discovery of the power of words and the reader’s and Death’s discovery of what it means to be human.
Now on to the review! The Book Thief is without a doubt one of the best written books that I have read in a long time. I’ve seen a lot of reviews that say that the book to a long time to read, but for me I couldn’t put it down and read all 550 pages in about a day. The words seem to float off the page to wrap you in a warm hug as you get lost in this seldom explored world. It is apparent to me that Zusak loves words as much as Liesel just through the care that he takes when describing anything from how the sky looked to what’s going on in the heart of a particular character. This isn’t a particularly plot driven novel, unless you count the entirety of World War II as a plot, but it is more of a character driven slice-of-life type of book. I say slice of life rather than coming-of-age because Liesel is only a small part of the book. Hans and Rosa Hubermann, her parents, Rudy Steiner, the boy next door, Max Vandenburg, the Jew hiding in her basement, Ilsa Hermann, as well as the various other people living in Molching, Germany play important parts in how the story is told. We see the trials and tribulations that young children faced (both the obedient and disobedient), we see how the adults acted (the ones that were pro-Hitler, those that were anti-Hitler, and those that wanted to survive), and we watch as war changes everything. I think the best part about this book is that even though there is a lot of sadness, we still have the happy moments too. Just when you think that things will never be okay again, there is a bit of light at the end which I think is true about anything in life and since the story is that of a young girl there is a lot of heart that only seems to come from people not yet jaded by life. This book was made for people that already understand the power of words as well as for people just learning their importance. I highly recommend if you love words, love people, and/or love historical fiction.