Poignant, gripping, compelling, lyrical and tragic – The Book Thief is all this and more. Death narrates this tale of a young girl, a stealer of books named Liesel, who is growing up in a small town outside of Munich during Hitler’s reign of terror. Markus Zukas – an award winning author of children’s literature – pens an original novel which explores (among other things) the tragedy of war, love and hate, the power of words, and that tenuous space which separates life from death. The characters who people this amazing book come alive on the page:
Rudy Steiner – Liesel’s best friend and a boy whose dreams include being an athlete as great as Jesse Owens.
“Papa” aka Hans Hubermann – Liesel’s foster father, an accordion player who honors a long forgotten promise and whose kind spirit repeatedly brought tears to my eyes.
“Mama” aka Rosa Hubermann – Liesel’s foster mother, a woman who loves as fiercely as she curses.
Max Vandenberg – The “Jew in the basement” who discovers the friendship of a girl and the healing power of words.
Ilsa Hermann – The mayor’s wife who has lost and grieved and punished herself, and yet makes room in her heart for a young girl with a hunger for words.
And finally, Liesel herself – a girl whose courage and wonderful spirit of life shines through on every page.
At one point, Liesel writes: I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. (from The Book Thief – page 523-) Markus Zusak makes the words right. His novel will resonate with book lovers. It is a story larger than life; one that touches the reader’s heart and never lets go. Death’s voice, at once both playful and profound, delivers the ending of this novel with a flourish that will break your heart.
There were many favorite passages from this book. Below are just a few.
About the colors or life (as narrated by Death):
About Trust and Love (as narrated by Death):
About the horrors of war:
– page 110-
About the power of words: