Sunday, 27 July 2008

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

I did this post over a year ago when in China which was never posted to my blog because of the Firewall blocks there. Doing Sunday Salon. I came across a Mr Linky link and then discovered the year long oversight.

When thinking about reading this book, prepare yourself by abandoning notions on what a novel exploring the Holocaust, Nazi Germany, the war should be about. It cover all this through the bitter-sweet nature of family life, bravery and the kindness of strangers, small town and street life ... and Death.

We meet Death when he first sees Liesel Meminger as he comes to collect her Brother's soul. He is too early so gets distracted and intrigued by her life. And so he follows her story until she is 14 as he comes to collects the souls of these around her.

Lisa's parents are communists so long gone into the labour camps so she is is fostered by a working class couple- he a decorator and she a laundress. Her foster mother is one bad mouth, rotten cook and all time battle-axe with guts. Her foster father is barely literature but kind, honest and hard-working. Its him that sits up with Liesel every night when she has her nightmares. He helps her to learn to read from the book she had stolen from the graveyard as her brother was buried-its her only link to the past.

We meet Liesel friends and the gangs she gets involved in to steal food and her time in the Hitler youth movement. One boy falls in love with her and chases her for a kiss- it happens but...

During the story we learn that her foster father life had been saved by a Jew in the war 20 years before and now his son saved by his best German friend comes to stay, The family honour a promise even though discovery would mean their death.

Death helps Liesel learn more from the books she has stolen( each theft a fresh adventure and a new danger) until he has to leave when it gets too dangerous for him to stay- she meets him twice more. He keeps in touch with her because he is busy in war torn Munich which destroys and builds her world as she matures.

The writing is clear, simple and imaginative from how each death has its own colour to having a narrative that is from the point of view of Death yet also from the changing awareness of a growing child. This makes the horror and danger of the period more human and so more real. Its not sentimental and having read much about the social and political realities of the time is very accurate.

Would I recommend it? Yes its a quick read with imagery and lines lingering long after the book is closed


  1. The Book Thief is a wonderful book! I especially liked its fresh approach to Holocaust literature.

  2. The Book Thief was pretty terrific. The writing is not heavy but communicates emotions and the subject matter in a well-crafted, unvarnished fashion.

  3. The Book Thief has been on my list for a long time, perhaps it's time to bring it to the top! Especially now that I can do with a 'quick' read, as work seems to interfere a bit with my reading pattern :)

  4. i enjoyed this book too, it quietly creeps up on you I think and lingers long

  5. Thank you for this review! I am compiling a list of literature written about the Holocaust and this is one of the books suggested for it. It sounds wonderful. I'll pick this one up the next time I'm ready to tackle that time period again.

  6. Wonderful book! The story'll stay with me for quite a while. I thought it was beautifully-written and I felt close to the characters, it's as if I know them! It's definitely one of the best books around.


Hi, welcome I appreciate the time and effort you are making to leave this comment and I will respond when I can