The Book Thief Review (Book Written by Markus Zusak)
Every once in awhile, a book comes along that introduces itself as a game changer. The Book Thief does just that as it transports its readers back to Germany during World War II. The story follows her life as a book thief, as the title might suggest, but also her growth and decisions to become a conduit of the written word. This novel is a historical fiction novel that really dives into life in Germany for those that did not side with the Nazi Party and their policies.
Interestingly, this book is narrated entirely by Death. This is an interesting take on a novel, and provides a fluid theme throughout the story. It also shows that death followed everyone during this time and was always a present danger. The main character, Liesel, loses her brother early in the story and ends up in a new foster home. This foster home is not a great situation for Liesel, as it exposes her to the incredible dangers of the Nazi regime in Germany. Her mother had to give her up due to her political affiliation with the communism and her father abandoning the family. This is one of the features of young adult literature; the protagonist is a young teen trying to discover themselves and to do so, they are taken away from their original homes and their parents.
As Liesel goes out to find herself, she is taught to read by her foster father. When the family takes in a Jewish man named Max, the exposure to the reality of the Nazi regime is cemented in the protagonist’s mind. Liesel then decides that she wants to read more and more. Because of her love to read, she become the titular “book thief” and begins stealing books from Nazi Bonfires, abandoned or occupied mansions, and other places as well. As she grows more and more adventurous, Liesel begins to write her own stories and journals as well, adding to her love of words. Her strong friendship with Max also inspired her to write and read, as Max gifted her with two books and a sketchbook that told her of Max’s story.
Our Thoughts On the Book
As far as thoughts on the novel, one of the first things that sticks out is that Death is bored of his job. As humans, we love to fantasize about the life that the immortal live. Humans tend to think that it would be glamorous, but Death has different opinions for the reader. He complains that he needs a nice vacation, but the humans keep him from doing so because there is simply no one to replace him and harvest the souls of the dead. And, as much as humans are haunted by death and evil spirits and the thoughts of ghosts, Death informs the readers that he is haunted by humans as well. This parallel identification between Death and humans creates an interesting connection that adds another element to the story.
Other than Death, the relationship between Liesel and Max is something that the reader’s will enjoy as well. It also gave author Markus Zusak a chance to really push an agenda of his own. The relationship showed the growth of Liesel’s love for reading and the written word, which pushes the theme of knowledge being power. It also gives the impression that reading inspires people, and inspiration was something that the Nazis did not want people to have in this time period.
Overall, this book is a great book for any young reader or old reader. It allows them to understand the importance of kindness and intelligence developed through reading. It shows the need for compassion, as the foster family brings in a Jewish man on the run, a man who eventually inspires Liesel to read and write her stories. The story is a great one to be taught in high school or middle school, and may just inspire that reluctant reader to read more often.
This novel will truly inspire anyone who reads it to challenge their old beliefs and thoughts on numerous things. From the belief that all Germans were Nazis in the 1940s to the belief that Death is not haunted by anything, this books gives readers a new look and a new perspective on all of these things. Zusak’s novel challenges and inspires readers and will continue to do so for generations to come.
The book was also made into a major motion picture! Here is the trailer.