Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on March 14th 2006
Genres: Historical, Young Adult
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It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .
Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.
This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.
This week, my school held parent teacher conferences. As I talked with my coworker, she mentioned how one mother had questioned her choice of reading The Book Thief with her class of high schoolers. I was surprised by how instantly offended I felt. What did this parent mean, why did she choose The Book Thief? In fact, why wouldn’t she choose The Book Thief? I guess I realized, in that moment, just how much The Book Thief means to me. This book has been around for awhile, but, if you haven’t read it, you need to.
The story follows a young girl through her trials and tribulations during WWII. For me, WWII is a fascinating time period to explore and learn about. This book makes you feel as though you were there, dealing with the bombings and anti-semitism. It made me laugh, but, more often, it made me sob. And the characters…I was attached to them all. I loved them despite their mistakes, and I adored watching them learn and grow within their war-torn world.
Then, there’s the writing. It’s, quite simply, beautiful. This book is so chock-full of quotes, I might as well have covered every page in sticky notes. To give you an idea, here’s a few:
“A small fact: You are gong to die…does this worry you?”
“I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.”
“I am haunted by humans.”
What’s most fascinating, however, is the point of view, but I’ll leave keep that a secret for you to find out when you read the book. Which, in all honesty, you really should do. This book makes in onto my all-time favorite books, and I find myself rereading it and cherishing it often.