As a reader, I generally have a very open mind when beginning a book. However, when I picked up the Book Thief I was expecting another sad but predictable story about life during the Holocaust. After all, we know the outcome right? Wrong. I was thoroughly unprepared for the emotional roller coaster hidden within the pages of this novel.
The book thief in question is Liesel Meminger, a young girl growing up in Germany during the Nazi Regime. In the beginning of the story, Liesel does not know how to read, but after many late night tutoring sessions with her adoptive father Hans Hubermann, she discovers a deep passion for books and reading. With the help of her best friend, a mischievous boy named Rudy Steiner, Liesel commences stealing books. Her sources are varied, from Nazi bonfires to the personal library of the mayor, but she always manages to get her hands on new material. Then, the lives of Liesel and the Hubermanns are changed forever when they take in a Jew by the name of Max Vandenberg. At first, Liesel is scared of Max, but eventually she discovers that Max is haunted by many of the same things she is and they become very close friends. Suddenly Liesel finds herself face to face with the injustice in her world. She finds good mentors in Rosa Hubermann, Hans Hubermann, and Max Vandenberg, and with them Liesel learns about love, injustice, kindness, and loss.
One of the things that truly set this book apart from the rest is the narrator. The story is told from the perspective of Death. As a character, Death was fascinating and his narration made the book even more superior. He added his own thoughts and emotions to the mix, creating an even more dynamic story. Zusak is a master of characterization, and I fell in love with the characters.
In my opinion, this is a fantastic book for most anybody to read. Personally, I don’t usually appreciate sugarcoating in books. I want to read about real life struggles and triumphs, and in real life not everything is wrapped up all nice and pretty in the end. This story was definitely not sugarcoated in any way, and it is one of the things I loved about it. However, it is also one of the reasons I would caution younger readers as some parts of the story may be overpowering.
I absolutely loved the the Book Thief, and it definitely deserves ten out of ten stars.