‘It is not the kind of story that has you crying: the sadness of Liesel’s story creeps up on you’
The Book Thief tells the story of Liesel, a little girl who is taken to a new home because her mother can’t afford to take care of her. The story is told by Death, who becomes a character you come to respect and even feel sorry for by the end. The narration puts an odd perspective on the story. Much of what Death says is very philosophical, and even beautiful.
The Book Thief is set in Nazi Germany, at the start of World War Two. On the journey to her new home, Liesel’s younger brother dies and she steals her first book: The Gravedigger’s Handbook. When she arrives at her new home, she suddenly has a new mama and papa. Haunted every night by nightmares of her brother’s death, Liesel and her Papa set themselves the challenge of reading the book, Liesel’s last link to her brother.
I found this book a bit of an eye-opener. It is one of the first books about the war that I have read that is from somebody living in Germany’s point of view. It makes you realise that so many people in Germany became victims of the war, that they weren’t all evil as they are often portrayed. It is not the kind of story that has you crying one moment and laughing the next. The sadness surrounding Liesel’s story creeps up on you, until suddenly you realise that it was like this for so many, and how serious it was, and is.
In reflection, The Book Thief leaves behind a sense of guilt, in some ways. Because it is the British bombs that are falling in Germany, the British who kill so many in the story and leave the reader’s cheeks soaked in tears.
Overall I would rate it 4/5, and recommend it to anyone aged 13 and upwards, as it is a serious story, and may not be fully understood by those younger.
ABOUT MARKUS ZUSAK
Markus Zusak is the author of five books, including the international bestseller, The Book Thief, which is translated into more than forty languages.
First released in 2006, The Book Thief has remained on the New York Times bestseller list since its publication. The book, which was made into a major motion picture, has been was awarded the 2014 Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults. Zusak lectures around the world, inspiring audiences with his own story of becoming a writer and an insider’s look at the crafting of his incredibly celebrated novel.
His first three books, The Underdog, Fighting Ruben Wolfe and When Dogs Cry (also known as Getting the Girl), released between 1999 and 2001, were all published internationally and garnered a number of awards and honours in his native Australia, and the USA. The Messenger (or I am the Messenger), published in 2002, won the 2003 Australian Children’s Book Council Book of the Year Award (Older Readers) and the 2003 NSW Premier’s Literary Award (Ethel Turner Prize), as well as receiving a Printz Honour in America.
Zusak’s latest book, Bridge of Clay, is a sweeping family saga chronicling the lives of five brothers who bring each other up in a world run on their own rules. At the center of the Dunbar family is Clay, a boy who will build a bridge—for his family, for his past, for greatness, for his sins, for a miracle. A New York Times bestseller, it was named one of the best books of the year by Entertainment Weekly and the Wall Street Journal. Markus Zusak grew up in Sydney, Australia, and still lives there with his wife and two children.
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