A review of The Book Thief (by Markus Zusak)

We have all heard of World War II and the horrors of it, but this book recounts what life was like for people in Nazi Germany. This novel is about a family that tries to survive Hitler’s regime, and even though they might not agree with his ideology, they must obey in order to survive. It’s also about compassion, and doing the right thing even if it’s wrong, and in Nazi Germany, something that can mean certain death. This book was amazing, although parts made me sick when the narrator describes all the horrible things that happened to Jews just because of their faith. Mainly, this book is about Liesel Meminger, and the life-changing choices she makes that affect everyone around her.

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The Book Thief centers around the life of Liesel Meminger, a ten-year-old girl living in Germany during World War II. Liesel’s experiences are narrated by Death, who describes both the beauty and destruction of life in this era.

After her brother’s death, Liesel arrives in a distraught state at the home of her new foster parents, Hans and Rosa Hubermann. During her time there, she is exposed to the horror of the Nazi regime and struggles to find a way to preserve the innocence of her childhood in the midst of her destructive surroundings. Hans, who has developed a close relationship with Liesel, teaches her to read in secret. Recognizing the power of writing and sharing the written words, Liesel begins to not only steal books, but also write her own stories and share the power of language. As Liesel copes with the trauma of her past and the violent horrors of the war-torn world around her, she embarks on a journey of self-discovery, the formation of a new family, and mostly, her life as a book thief.

This novel is one powerful book. It’s scary, and frightening, but that’s what Liesel’s life was like, and that’s what most of real people’s lives in Germany was like. If you’re thinkng what I was thinking when I contemplated reading this book, think again. I thought, “Why would I want to read a sad, depressing book about WWII?” It’s much more than that. I won’t spoil the book, but it’s not all bad. As we all know, Hitler was defeated. His hate didn’t win. I recommend this book to all readers.

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