The Book Thief – Markus Zusak (Review)


The Book Thief is a novel about a young girl, Liesel, who is given up by her mother to a foster family who live near Munich, in 1939.

The girl’s younger brother, who was also to be fostered, dies on the gruelling journey and is buried in the nearest town. While at the funeral Liesel sees one of the gravediggers drop a book from his pocket and she takes it – so starts the life of a book thief.

Liesel can’t read but with the help of her kindly foster father Hans she begins to lose herself in words and finds she gets a lot of enjoyment from reading.

As Nazi Germany heads into war with the Allies things become more and strained across the country and Liesel turns to reading for comfort.

The Book Thief is told not from Liesel’s point of view, as you might expect but is narrated by Death himself.

This lends the book a charming, almost innocent tilt as Death struggles to understand why humans act as they do, all the while telling us the story of this young girl growing up surrounded by ‘Heil Hitler’s’ and the Hitler Youth.

I thought this was a brilliant book and certainly wasn’t something I would’ve normally picked up (see my other book reviews for evidence 🙂 ) but I read the first page and couldn’t put it down.

The Book Thief is a sad but brilliantly told story – capturing both the human suffering of the war and the brutal way we often treat other people.

One of the most moving things about the story is the fact that there were probably thousands of little children like Liesel in Nazi Germany at the time and it’s that sort of scale that really helps put that era into some form of perspective.

I would definitely recommend giving this one a try, it is a beautiful story written in an easy, accessible way. Markus Zusak based it around stories from the war told by his family and you can see from the level of detail he has really brought those stories to life.

It’s not neccessarily the easiest of reads with regard to the subject matter but there are moments of joy within the oppression and I think most people will enjoy Liesel’s story.

Rating: 9/10


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