The Book Thief

By

Markus Zusak

I had heard that the book The Book Thief was something that should be on my reading list.  The book was on the New York Times Best Seller list for ten years and has been translated into over 40 languages.  I finally purchased the book on this most recent Amazon Prime Day and made sure it remained visible on my bookshelf so I wouldn’t forget about it.  This book is long, 550 pages, and I devoured it over a weekend. 

The Book Thief is about a young girl living in Germany during the rise of Hitler and during WWII.  The Book Thief put me through a range of emotions.  I was captivated and repulsed.  I was heartbroken and hopeful.

The book opens with Liesel’s brief journey and arrival at her new foster home and proceeds to tell her story along with several others – her adopted parents, her best friend Rudy and a Jew named Max .  The story unfolds over the next eight years with the tense backdrop of the rise of the Third Reich. 

The selection of the narrator is unusual and at the same time is highly effective.  It only takes a few pages for you to recognize who is narrating the story.  Also of interest is that the story is about a German family living through this tumultuous time and it reminds us that not all citizens of Germany were supporters of the Nazi regime.  Many risked their lives and suffered because they helped others.

This is not an easy read as it deals with unspeakable horrors.  I was surprised then to learn that it had won two Children’s book awards.  Upon reflection, this book is focused on Liesel who is a child; however, if you are considering giving this to a youngster, be sure they are mature enough to handle the subject matter.  At the same time, I hope that this book is on the curriculum in schools because it is important to remember the past so we do not repeat the same horrid mistakes.

I can only imagine how hard it was to write this book so kudos to the author for bringing such a sensitive subject to light in such a captivating manner.  This is unequivocally a five-star book.