Zusak, M. (2006). The book thief . New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
The Book Thief is a New York Times Best Seller.
The Book Thief is a story set during World War II. It is about a German orphan named Liesel Meminger whose foster parents, the Hubermanns, hide a Jew (Max) in their basement. The novel is about the power of words. Words help Liesel cope with the loss of her family, and with the harsh realities of WWII (by learning to read and by stealing books from the Mayor's library). Words also have power and can be used to control a nation, as Liesel sees in the case of Hitler.
I love The Book Thief. The story is told in the first person point of view with a unique narrator, Death. Death collects souls and, against his better judgement, becomes interested in Liesel when he collects her brother's soul. Death sees Liesel, who he calls the book thief, three times. The third time he sees her, she drops a book that she has written about her life. He is so touched by her story that he carries it with him and reads it many times before he meets her again at the end of her life to collect her soul. Her story renews his faith in humanity, and balances the cruelty he has seen through dark times like WWII. The characters are likeable and easy to connect with in this novel. Hans Hubermann is the type of man that every reader loves. He is kind and possesses all the right qualities to win Liesel over almost immediately. Rosa Hubermann, at first seems like a character that is hard to love. It took a long time for Liesel to connect to Rosa. Though Rosa is a hard woman, she loves deeply, which is obvious when Hans is sent away to be in the LSE. When she sits up holding his accordian at night and crying, it is clear that her feelings are deep, even if she doesn't always show it. Liesel's best friend Rudy is loyal and funny. He adds a humorous side to the story. I especially liked it when he innocently painted himself black to run a race, so that he could be like his hero Jesse Owens, the Olympic Gold Medalist. He just didn't seem to understand why it was dangerous for him to do such a thing in Nazi Germany. Max and Liesel are very similar. They have both lost their families and they both feel guilty about being the one to survive. Max and Liesel depend on each other and each one helps the other begin to heal. I loved every part of this book. Zusak uses so many literary techniques to move the novel along very quickly. I would highly recommend this book to all readers.