Jackie "the Librarian"'s Reviews > The Book Thief

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
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Mar 19, 09

bookshelves: awardwinners, youngadult, teen-books-adults-can-enjoy
Recommended for: ages 12 and up
Read in January, 2006, read count: 2

Yes, it's narrated by Death, but he just provides an omniscient point of view. His attention is caught by Liesl when he comes to claim her brother, and she provides a welcome distraction from the horrors of the war. Yes, even Death finds war disturbing. But he's not a major player in the book, okay? He's too busy keeping up with the Nazis, anyway.

During WWII in a small town in Germany, Liesl is entrusted by her mother to a good family, one that is quietly appalled by the Holocaust. Separated from her mother, and with her brother so recently dead, Liesl fixates on books as a way to survive in a world at war, and steals them whenever she can.

I especially loved Hans, Liesl's adoptive father, who teaches her how to read with the book on gravedigging, The Gravedigger's Handbook, she appropriated at her brother's grave. He doesn't say much, but he innate decency shines out in the time he spends with Liesl. Sadly, it also endangers the family when he goes to the aid of one of the Jews being marched through town. It doesn't stop him from taking in Max, a Jew, and providing him a place to hide in the basement.

Liesl eventually goes from reading books to writing them, putting down her experiences and the world she sees around her.

The book's focus is on the impact of war on the lives of ordinary people, and a paean to books, and it is a powerful and moving story.
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I just read this book again for a teen book discussion group, and it moved me to tears.
The first time through, I rushed through it. It IS 550 pages, you know? But this time, having to come up with discussion questions, and really pay attention, I caught much more of the imagery, and more of the character details. And the ending was devastating.

I would love a sequel, to see how Liesel got from Germany to Australia, and to confirm the guess that she married Max. Come on, Mr. Zusak! What are you waiting for?
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Comments (showing 1-7)




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Valerie I loved this book. I especially loved the book that Max made for Liesl... I can't wait to see if Zusak comes out with a new book soon.


Meredith I loved this book so much that I bought a copy of it. When Liesel finally kissed Rudy, I cried.


Amanda She moved to Australia? Crap. Wait, when? I swear I was paying attention!!!! (I mean, I won't swear on anything important...)


Jackie "the Librarian" In the epilogue, we learn that she moved, but it's not part of the story, really, Manders. I think Liesel is based on stories Markus Zusak heard about his own family.


Amanda Oh, thanks, Jackie!


Lisa Vegan Jackie, This is a new favorite book of mine. Another friend also said she assumed Liesel married Max. I actually hope not. It seems creepy to me. Max was an adult and Liesel just a girl when they met. I read this first for an online book club and did read it carefully. I recommended it for my real world book club and it's our book for our next meeting in April. I adored Hans too.


Rose Oh, I sure hope that Max and Liesel married! It makes sence and is not creepy. They have been through so much and I'm glad you thought the same as I did. It makes me sigh with relief.


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