The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak
reviewed by Krista Celo
The Book Thief is a heartfelt and carefully worded story that contains afflictions and an overbearing amount of hope through each and every one of the character’s journeys. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is a book that portrays the life of Liesel Meminger as she journeys through each situation, while living in Germany during World War II, and adapts to the changes of her new foster home. All the while, the dreams of her dead brother haunt her into a fascination of reading and writing that will inevitably lead to her life of crime.
Narrated by death, this story follows Liesel as she steals books with her best friend, Rudy, and how they are able to discover the power of friendship, words, and language. Through Liesel’s eyes we are able to see the brutal Nazism, as well as the shining humanness. Despite having a life that no one would wish on anyone, Liesel manages to find glimpses of pleasure through many small things, including the books she steals.
Early on in the story, while at her brother’s funeral, Liesel commits her first thievery when she steals the gravedigger’s book. For Liesel, this is a turning point in her life with being burdened with a great loss and also having to adapt to her new foster home. While making this big transition in her life, Liesel meets her new parents and learns to love them as her own. Among her foster parents, Rosa and Hans Hubermann, she instantly forms a deep bond with her new papa and later on learns to love her mama despite her attitude and manners. This book progresses as Liesel develops a deeper understanding of the war between the Jews and the Germans. Liesel gains a further understanding when the family houses a Jew (Max Vandenburg), and Liesel develops a strange relationship with him. Together, Max and Liesel are able to connect and share words with one another that leads to a decisive understanding of how words can play a role in both a context of courage and fearfulness.
The narrator of the book is death, and he/she plays a significant role in the book. In most case scenarios death touches us, however in this case Liesel manages to touch death with her limitless courage through all she has undergone in life. Death narrates for us the hardships in each human life he takes, and the human conflicts and peace with one another. Death has seen a lot in all of his existence, but he has never seen anything like the story of the book thief.
In The Book Thief, Zusak is able to write a story of new friendships and bonds in one of the most horrific periods in human history. This story will change your whole perspective on how you view death, and life.