The Seasonal Reading Challenge discussion

GROUP READS > The Book Thief Discussion

Comments Showing 1-48 of 48 (48 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia (pandoraphoebesmom) | 1378 comments If you choose to read The Book Thief for the Group Reads task (or another task for that matter) please feel free to discuss it here.

message 2: by scherzo♫ (last edited Jun 01, 2010 09:17PM) (new)

scherzo♫ (pjreads) A story about nazi Germany ... narrated by Death.
Slow start ... by the end it's just WOW!
Gobsmacked as the British say.

message 3: by Paula (new)

Paula (paula05) | 12 comments I agree with you, I thought it was slow at first but I loved the idea of it being narrated by death. Definately a "different" aspect.

message 4: by Iamthez (new)

Iamthez | 54 comments I actually put the book down the first time I attempted it and promptly forgot about it. Then, maybe a few months later, out of pure boredom, I grabbed it off my shelf and decided to give it another try. I'm glad I did.

I really enjoyed the point of view, and the fact that the little girl was German and not Jewish really added something to the story. This way, it was easier to identify with her, as someone who is helping a Jew, rather than a Holocaust story taking place entirely in concentration camps. It's harder to imagine since most of us don't have a frame of reference. That doesn't mean we can't appreciate the story, or understand it, but it just gives the story an extra oomph.

message 5: by Petra (last edited Jun 05, 2010 11:58AM) (new)

Petra I like how Death was portrayed as a being of warmth and sympathy and caring, as opposed to the usual skull and sickle. It makes the entire death scenario one of warmth and travel rather than an ending of being.
This is a lovely story. So many Holocaust stories tell the dark & public side (of which there are many) but the stories of the silent heroes, those who did what they could at peril of their own lives, is so often forgotten. Ordinary people living heroic lives.
Leisel's story is full of warmth and heartbreak. The poor child went through so many horrible experiences in her young life.
She was lucky, too. In her early years, she found 3 sets (or partial sets) of parents to love her and help her to adulthood. Her biological mother, the Hubermanns (both were so very special) and the Mayor's wife. These people kept her safe in a way that we cannot imagine. They kept her from the Regime of the time and kept her warmth and caring alive during times when that sort of thing wasn't encouraged openly.
Rudy broke my heart; as did all the deaths on Himmel Street. Rudy was so alive and energetic and warm and caring. Just the sort of person that Humanity needs to move forward in a peaceful way.

Does anyone else think that Leisel's husband may have been Max? I hope it was.

message 6: by Paula (new)

Paula (paula05) | 12 comments Petra wrote: "Does anyone else thing that Leisel's husband may have been Max?i>

I didn't even think about that. :-(

message 7: by Petra (last edited Jun 05, 2010 10:17PM) (new)

Petra Pauline, I thought it might be true because they went through so much together and survived. That creates a bond that cannot be broken, I think. Plus, they became such good friends and they're only about 11 years apart in age.
I'd like to think that they married and lived happy lives.

message 8: by Lindsey (new)

Lindsey (mamamunky) | 172 comments I just finished re-reading the book and actually liked it more the second time around. I never even thought of Max and Liesel as being married, but that would certainly have been an amazing end to their story. My favorite character (besides Liesel) was the Mayor's Wife. She was just so sad, and I don't think Liesel realized how much she meant to her. All in all, I felt this was a great book about a horrible time in world history. (I would also suggest that anyone interested in learning more of a first hand experience should read Night and Day by Elie Wiesel)

message 9: by Manday (new)

Manday | 311 comments The audiobook of this is amazing.. I probably liked it 10x as much as I would have if I just read it. I love the language this book uses, the way it fuses colors and textures and feelings.

message 10: by Paula (new)

Paula (paula05) | 12 comments Lindsey wrote: "I just finished re-reading the book and actually liked it more the second time around. I never even thought of Max and Liesel as being married, but that would certainly have been an amazing end to ..."

One of my favs was also the Mayor's Wife because I think she was true, kind, accepting, etc.

message 11: by Wendy UK (new)

 Wendy  UK (wendyuk) | 756 comments It would certainly be a tidy ending for Max and Liesel to marry, and I suppose the parts of a story which are not included in the book are up to the imagination of the reader. So if we want to believe that we can! To my mind it doesn't matter - Liesel obviously married someone, and hopefully had a happy marriage (her husband was one of her dying visions). She must certainly have learned the importance of relationships. I think that is one of the points of the book - that somene can go through the most terrible experiences and still end up having an ordinary life and enjoying their children and grandchildren. And also that throughout the terrible times ordinary life still goes on, eg children enjoying football.

The element of the book that meant the most to me was the way it shows how terrible times lead some people to incredible acts of cruelty, and others to incredible acts of courage and love. I wonder if this capacity is part of our inborn personality, or is it created by what happens to us? Probably a combination of both.

message 12: by Iamthez (new)

Iamthez | 54 comments Wendy wrote: "It would certainly be a tidy ending for Max and Liesel to marry, and I suppose the parts of a story which are not included in the book are up to the imagination of the reader. So if we want to beli..."

I think that's a really good way of putting it, Wendy. That people can overcome their pasts to have an amazing future and just how normal life can be. My father lived through a civil war and he used to tell me how it was just normal to go and check out the dead bodies before going to school, just to see if you knew anyone. It was just so ordinary, that no one even thought muc habout it.

message 13: by Pinky_rocks (new)

Pinky_rocks | 68 comments My favorite things about this book were the fact that death narrated it. That's a very original take on the whole story. It could make people think about starting another war, on the other hand, people who start wars are not really much thinking about the people they're putting into danger. It's only about politics.

The other thing I really liked is how the author used the many different colors to describe the moods and the overall situations.

Since I am German myself and there's not a lot of teaching about our own history in school, you have to find your own sources if you want to learn about what really happened. Of course this book is to be seen as a novel but I think it shows very clear the lives and hopes and fears of Germans at that time. Also I'm still quite shocked about how many people were willing to follow someone with views as hostile and brutal like Hitlers were. As death said in this book "Without words, the Führer was nothing."

message 14: by Danielle (new)

Danielle (thewolvessaid) Just finished it moment ago...the tears are still drying on my cheeks!

The story was so fueled with love, yet terrifying that it was surrounded by so much hate. Loved all of the characters. I think Max was my favorite. Rudy is a close second. They both just seemed so personable.

Max and Liesel are definitely married in my mind!

message 15: by Brenda (new)

Brenda G | 66 comments The book shows that we can carry on, despite overwhelming obstacles, if we are loved. How many of us, sitting in our comfy chairs reading a book, can even conceive the horrendous events of Liesel's life - yet she was able to find happiness because of those she loved and those who loved her.

I agree with the other postings above. The book being narrated by Death, took the book to a whole new level.

This goes on the Must Read list!

message 16: by Sofia (new)

Sofia | 1 comments I never thought about Liesel and Max getting married. It does seem like a good possibility though. I wonder how thing would've been had Rudy lived.He was probably my favorite character. I loved how he was so bold and brave about everything.
It was a pretty slow start but, about half-way through I couldn't put it down. Definitely one of my favorites.

message 17: by Lauren (new)

Lauren | 58 comments I just finished this book, and still have chills. It was absolutely amazing. I loved that Death was a sympathetic narrator, rather than a dreaded, feared being, and the different descriptions of the deaths of the individuals - Rosa being taken away mid-snore, Papa dying ready to accept it, etc. It was so different than anything else I have read recently.

I will be re-reading this book very soon.

message 18: by Nicki (new)

Nicki H (nickihermann) Most of the comments on this page are dead-on for me! I instantly thought that Max and Liesel were married when the narrator said she was married and had kids and grandkids, but then when they met again it did not seem like it was anymore than a chance meeting!!!

I also thought it was slow and kind of confusing at first. It took me two times picking it up and getting past 50 or so pages to become entranced by the book. I have already reccommended it to 2 people!! Very unique story.

message 19: by Petra (new)

Petra Nicki wrote: "...... but then when they met again it did not seem like it was anymore than a chance meeting..."

Nicki, that's interesting. When I read about their meeting after the War, I had the opposite feeling. I felt that he came looking for her and she had been waiting for him to return.
I also think that this is an entrancing book and would recommend it to others.

message 20: by Ashley (new)

Ashley (affie) I like that Zusak did not tell us who Liesel married. I like that we can imagine who was for ourselves. I feel that if he had told us she married Max I would have felt like the ending was a little too pat and perfect for the tone of the story, but that if he had named some unknown person, I would have been so sad it wasn't Max... (I know... I'm hard to please ;). ) I love that he left it up to us to decide.

I also loved the narration by Death. I thought the inclusion of spoilers given to us by Death was very interesting. It gave me the feeling of wanting/waiting to cheat death. That is something we see a lot of in society- this desire to live forever, and escape death. When Death told us that Rudy died in the end, I was so angry! I kept trying to think of ways that he might really be wrong. Rudy was a favorite, and I didn't want to see him go. It was an interesting feeling as I was reading...

But, I absolutely loved this book!

message 21: by [deleted user] (new)

I will definitely be recommending this book. It crushed me when Death told us that Rudy died (and missed experiencing his kiss). I had been hoping that after the war, they would at least date or something. But then during some parts with Max, I wondered if maybe he and Leisel would end up together. Zusak was right to not tell us who she married, even if I really want to know! I also fell in love with "The Word Shaker". I cried after reading it, heck, this book just made me cry...

message 22: by Shelley (new)

Shelley | 57 comments I, like many, thought that this book began very slowly and almost stopped reading it, but continued on. I think the turning point was the arrival of Max. He contributed the added dimension of the Jewish experience as well as expanding Liesel's world.

The narration by Death definitely adds a different dimension to the story and I think adds a lot to a story set in a place like WWII Germany.

message 23: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 38 comments I loved this book! Having Death be the narrator was so different and unique; it took me awhile to get used to but then I really got into it. Even knowing ahead of time what was going to happen to certain characters, it was still heart wrenching when those moments finally happened.

This is one of the rare books I have reread and it was just as good the second time around.

message 24: by Jade (new)

Jade I really enjoyed this book and have recommended it several people already. I had never read a book with that particular view point on German citizens during WWII and found the story line very interesting. I liked the unique narration and that the rest of her story was left to imagination. Overall this was a fantastic read.

message 25: by Felina (new)

Felina I read this book last summer. I remember being enthralled by it. I forced my Mom to read it then and have recently pushed it on my Aunt.

I remember being very moved by Rudy. I loved every scene he was in, every word he said and every description of him. I sobbed when he died.

Perhaps its because its been a while since I read the book or because of the strong feelings I had for Rudy but I never once pictured Liesel with Max. Kinda gives me the creeps. I pictured her with a version of Rudy that survived.

message 26: by Sara (new)

Sara (saradiann) | 22 comments I believe this just might be my new favorite book. I can't decide which is my favorite character... I love them all... for different reasons... although the mayor's wife was easy to like, there was something about the mean neighbor lady (can't spell their names) that was really fascinating. I also imagine her with Max, although she would definitely have stayed with Rudy if he had survived.

message 27: by Kim (new)

Kim | 166 comments This one took me a while to get into and I had to pick it up a couple of times before it grabbed me. I am glad that I persevered- as I found it totally enthralling by the end. It had an unusual narrator- making it have a different perspective.

message 28: by [deleted user] (new)

I really liked this book. There were some parts that for me were a little dry or long for me. But all in all I really liked the book. My mom will be reading it next and I can not wait for her to finish the book so we can talk about it. I really think that there is a lot in this book to talk about.

message 29: by Elliott (new)

Elliott I would've cried if my cousin wasn't bothering me as I read frantically to see what happened at the end.

message 30: by Gigi (new)

Gigi (gigigransden) | 16 comments I finished this book a couple days ago but wanted to take some time before posting.
First I have to agree with those that liked the character of death narrating the story. Needless to say it pulled me in. I was more interested in death's stories than the book thief's story. Maybe that's an idea for another book.
I can honestly say I've never read a book like this. The back and forth of the story was frustrating at times. Sometimes knowing what was to happen made the story less interesting to read.
This isn't a quick read but once past page 100 I didn't put it down.
I would recommend this to anyone. It's a different take on a well written subject.

message 31: by Jayme VA (new)

Jayme VA | 789 comments I really enjoyed this book, if enjoyed can be applied to it. It was dark, hopeful, upsetting, and full of love. It was a new perspective on WWII for me and one that I hadn't really thought about much. This book brought tears to my eyes several times. I finished it in early June and I think it will always be as vivid as it was when I first read it. I highly recommend this book (a good companion book for another unique perspective would be Suite Française, another wonderful book).

message 32: by Julie (new)

Julie (readerjules) I just joined this group and just finished this book. I loved it! I thought some things about the way it was written were odd, but that made it more interesting. I am glad that Liesel went to live with the with the mayor' wife. I was sad when I thought that she'd be left all alone. I never thought about her marrying Max. Probably because I thought of her as a kid and him as an adult throughout the book and pictured him more as another father figure.

message 33: by Aleksandra (new)

Aleksandra (aleksandrakonwa) | 777 comments I am not a fan of books about WWII and all what happened during this time (perhaps life in Poland and knowledge of the concentration camps are reason for it) but I enjoyed this book. In my opinion this book is worth recommendation. And yes I thought about Liesel marrying Max.

message 34: by Karen (new)

Karen | 39 comments I have read many Holocaust era books, and I enjoyed the different form of narration. There were many great characters in this book - I loved Rudy! I'm glad the narrator gave us plenty of warning with how Rudy's story ended because that would have been even more painful to read about otherwise! I also wondered about Liesel and Max in the end.....the age difference wasn't that large. Of course the maturity level was much different, but Liesel had to grow up so fast with all of the hardships she endured. I am glad I read the book - I have owned it for a while now and just kept it on the shelf. I look forward to reading more from this author.

message 35: by Laura (new)

Laura | 1 comments After reading through the comments on this page, I might have to re-read this book sometime. I'd give it a fair-to-middling rating. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting these characters, but simply didn't get enough of them. Could have done with less narrator and more of Rudy, Liesel, and the rest. That said - death often interrupts and cuts short character development in real life, so I find it appropriate that the same would happen in a WWII novel with death as narrator.

message 36: by Elizabeth (NC) (new)

Elizabeth (NC) | 185 comments I finished this book a couple of weeks ago and it's been sitting with me ever since. I thought Death was a fantastic narrator. I also felt like I wanted him to be wrong when he talked about Rudy dying in the bomb--it made all the moments with Rudy bitter-sweet knowing that he was not going to live. To me, all of the hints of what would happen made it harder to read the book because I knew it would not turn out the way I wanted it to.
Overall, a very good book, but I thought the beginning was a little hard to understand and get into. I have a former student (now sixth grader) that I am recommendng it to, but I think it might be a hard for many of my students to read--both in content and style.

message 37: by Jennifer N. (new)

Jennifer N. | 423 comments I wasn't that excited about this book. I enjoyed the characters well enough but I felt that the novel just didn't flow right. I didn't care of the narrators interuptions and I would have liked to hear more about the secondary characters.

message 38: by Lynda (new)

Lynda | 49 comments The Book Thief was one of several books I ended up purchasing for the Winter Challenge that sadly (until now) remained unread. I honestly can't say enough good things about this book. There is just so much that I liked about it. This book definitely delivers. Personally, I didn't find Death's interruptions at all intrusive and Zusak's use of foreshadowing really worked for me. I more than likely would have given it a 5 star rating if my busy life hadn't forced me to continually pick it up and put it down.

message 39: by Ruby (new)

Ruby (rubina310) I really enjoyed this book.

The characters were well developed and the imagery and language of the story was really beautiful. The fact that the story was told from the perspective of death added a whole new nuance to the novel which made it work well. Sometimes the narrator was a little intrusive with the bolded comments and bullet points but I was too absorbed with the characters and story to really care. Overall, I thought the use of the narrator helped universalize the story within the larger context of the Holocaust and World War II. I think the ironic and cryptic tone of Death allowed the author to deal with themes which are very difficult to present and discuss in a literary way.

message 40: by Mary Beth (new)

Mary Beth (marybethbaker) | 143 comments This is actually the second book I've read for this challenge that included a personification of death. The other book being Death with Interruptions by Jose Saramago. However, I much preferred The Book Thief. There was just more "life" to Death in this one, a death that had more emotions for human beings and itself. Going in, I of course had an idea that the story would be a sad story, how could it not? I even avoided reading the end in a public place and waited until I was home in my apartment behind closed doors...I tend to be a crier. So, I was prepared, but I was prepared for the emotional involvement. For the first 3/4 of the book, I could understand the emotions of the characters, but I didn't feel that close to them, the emotions or the characters. Well, that all changed in the last 1/4 of the book. I admit it, I broke down. And still, like quite a few others who have read the story, I held out hope that Liesel did marry Max....what I wonderful ending to come out of the suffering for both of them.

message 41: by Chris (new)

Chris | 31 comments I liked this book most because I think its a good Holocaust book for young adult readers. There are gruesome, horrific realy accounts like the books by Elie Wiesel and kiddy versions like Number The Stars but this one falls well in-between. I've taught middle and high school before and this would be right on for a middle school lit class. Kids growing up now need to know about the atrocities that happened in our world, but Wiesel's treatment is a bit too harsh and violent for a younger age group. In the same way, kid-lit Holocaust books like Number the Stars don't take the subject greviously enough. This book is excellent in how it makes the gravity and horror of the situation real but not too gruesome for a younger age group.

I loved this book and think it has huge amounts of potential and creativity.

message 42: by Julie (new)

Julie  | 82 comments I bought this book in March at the Illinois Reading Conference because it was on sale for $3. I had not read it because it was a thick book and I didn't feel that I had the time to invest in it while teaching full time and taking two grad classes. When I saw that it was a group read for this challenge I decided to tackle the "thick" book! WOW, I was able to complete this book very quickly! I did not realize when I purchased it that it was a historical fiction book (my favorite!!) and set during my favorite time period to read about. I became very invested in the lives of Liesel, Rudy, and the families of Molching.

I feel that this is a perfect addition to my collection of middle school appropriate books. I currently teach 2nd grade, but I intend to eventually move to the middle school grade levels.

message 43: by Dee (new)

Dee (austhokie) | 7793 comments i'm so glad i'm not the only was an enjoyable read but not a WOW read to me. I think becasue I have done some many courses and reading on the holocause through high school and college and had the opporunity to spend time with survivors. I did enjoy the character of Max, but I think after talking to a friend of mine who was also a history major, that I have a hard time seeing the German citizens as innocent in the whole thing, especially when there are the scenes of the prisoners being marched to Dachau and they did nothing...

Jennifer N. wrote: "I wasn't that excited about this book. I enjoyed the characters well enough but I felt that the novel just didn't flow right. I didn't care of the narrators interuptions and I would have liked to h..."

message 44: by Mrs.soule (new)

Mrs.soule (mrssoule) I enjoyed Death as the narrator and its view of color, but that's about all I liked. I think a major problem for me was how many people GUSHED about this book before I read it so my expectations were very high. If I'd just picked it off a shelf without previously hearing of it, I probably would have been pleasantly surprised. My main problem with the book was being forewarned who was going to die - this kept me from engaging with any of the doomed characters. Especially Rudy: I really wanted to like him but I knew he was going to die, so I couldn't - I just kept waiting for him to die. Even though I personally didn't enjoy this book, I could easily recommend it to anyone as well-written Young Adult historical fiction.

message 45: by Danielle (new)

Danielle (daniellek86) | 12 comments I listened to the audio of this book, and got to the part where liesl is finding all of the corpses -- just as i was getting to my yoga class. I had to sit in my car and sob for a few minutes and then compose myself for class. It was just heartbreaking heartbreaking heartbreaking. I was SO glad that Liesl found Max... I don't know how she could have survived with him dying too.

Sidenote, I like the other covers shown a lot better than the Domino cover.

message 46: by Danielle (new)

Danielle (daniellek86) | 12 comments Also: Did anyone read both this book and Mockingjay? I finished them right after one another and the similarities were haunting, moreso since TBT is a history and MJ is a future.

message 47: by Danna (new)

Danna The writing is one of The Best I have ever read! Fantastic! But the story was sort of left behind... Truly dissapointed!

message 48: by Danna (new)

Danna Danielle wrote: "Also: Did anyone read both this book and Mockingjay? I finished them right after one another and the similarities were haunting, moreso since TBT is a history and MJ is a future."

I read both of them. Disliked both of them, actually... I read one less than a month after I finished the other.

back to top