November 27, 2015

The Book Thief. Markus Zusak

book cover
The Book Thief
Mark Zusak
Published: Black Swan
Date: 2005
Format: Paperback
Pages: 553
Genre: Historical fiction.
Source: Own book
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1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier. Liesel a nine year old girl, is living with a foster family on Himmel Street. Her parents have been taken away to a concentration camp. Liesel steals books. This is her story and the story of the inhabitants of her street when the bombs began to fall.

It's a small story, about:
a girl
an accordionist
some fanatical Germans
a Jewish fist fighter
 quite a lot of thievery. 
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The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - what can I say, it caught me up and made me carefully read every page. It was very strange in the beginning it was narrated by Death, I think now having read the whole book if I were to go back and read the beginning again, I would not find it so strange. Death is a voice of great compassion.

A story of the best of humanity and the worst. Set in Germany in WW11 it gives us a viewpoint from Himmel St, a poor street in a German town. It is to this street that Liesel is brought to be fostered by Hans Hubermann and his wife Rosa. They become her Papa and Mama. She has already seen and experienced more than anyone her age should, and as the war goes on, it only grows larger. What a Papa and Mama too. They were everything this young girl needed. They also showed her the largeness of their hearts and where they stood in this terrible time.

Liesel makes friends with a boy in the street - Rudy, and what a friendship. They have many adventures together, although remember it's wartime, so not what you usually find in a friendship. They know hard times and their compassion and largeness of heart only grows. Rudy is all boy and he keeps asking Liesel for a kiss, but will she ever bestow it?

Max is another important character in this book and a strong bond grows between Liesel and himself. She brings him gifts when he is ill, he in turn goes to great lengths to create gifts for Liesel.

When Liesel arrives at the Hubermann's house she cannot read or write, but she carries with her a book, the first book that she has taken. With Hans help, slowly and painstakingly she learns to read and write. In times of distress eventually her reading will bring others peace and help calm them. And she also becomes a book thief, aided and abetted by Rudy and another surprising woman.

Yes, I wept through the last sad pages, sad for the losses and admiring of the beauty in one young woman who both loved and hated words, recognising the power of the word.

I am pleased that finally I was able to take The Book Thief of my TBR shelf and read it where it took me to a place where I could recognise the beauty of humanity and along with it the evil power that could destroy so many lives.

5 stars
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  1. I read The Book Thief when it first came out & wasn't sure whether I really liked it or not. Death as narrator was very interesting & well done. I saw the movie when it came out and thought it was beautifully done so I should probably try reading the book again especially as my daughter gave it to me for Christmas last year.

  2. I have been wanting to read this one...your review makes we want it even more. Thanks!

  3. I'm one of the last people to read this book, not really knowing if it's something I would enjoy. You have me second guessing myself now! I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Great review Kathryn. I have this book on my To Read list as well.

  5. I'm glad to read you liked this book. I feel there was a lot of hype around this book. The Goldfinch was a disappointment to me, a book that was lauded by tons. So I've put off reading this book b/c I was worried it'd be a "Don't believe the hype."


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