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Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

in a sentence or so: thoughtful. devastating. hopeful. emotional. exhausting. overwhelming. poetic. lasting.

Liesel Meminger is growing up in Germany in 1940. her dad was taken away, and while going to meet her new foster family, her brother dies. just starts coughing, and then dies. while attending his quasi-funeral with her mom, she discovers a book the gravedigger left behind. thus begins her life as a book thief, and thus begins our journey with Liesel Meminger - with Death as our narrator.

yes, you read that correctly, this book is narrated by Death. and he (i'm making the assumption death is male, sorry) is a pretty good narrator actually. we get the 3rd person omniscient narration which is perfect for these characters (knowing what they think and why) and helps to weave a captivating story. we start with Liesel moving to Molching, Germany to live with her foster family, continue with her as she grows up as a Hitler Youth, watch her learn to love her new family, makes friends, steals books, and become wise to the ways of the world. and let's be honest, learning how the world works in 1940's Germany is no easy feat...lots of contradiction and confusion there.

i don't want to reveal the plot, so i won't. what i will reveal is that this book is exhausting. the characters are painted so vividly and genuine that i felt like i really knew them and was super invested in learning what happened to them. Death has this thing with colors too, which helps to create beautiful images in the mind of the reader. and since there are no "feel-good" books about Germany in the 1940s, i'm sure you can gather what the backdrop of the book is about. but it is so much more than World War II in this novel...and yet it all fits so well within that framework. seriously, the word use and imagery in this book alone blew my mind - simply amazing - and then it has a fantastic plot and totally memorable characters to boot.

at over 500 pages, this was no quick read. in fact as i said before, it's downright exhausting. i was emotionally spent when i finished, but felt better for having read it. the emotions and characters and plot and development and all of it just grab your heart and squeeze until you don't think there's anything left there to squeeze...and then gently hands it back to you. while i know this is fiction, i will remember the characters of this book and will be inspired by who they represent - because the reality is that somewhere out there, Liesel Meminger did exist in some way, shape, or form...and THAT is why this book is emotionally exhausting.

fave quotes: "Somewhere in all the snow, she could see her broken heart, in two pieces. Each half was glowing, and beating under all that white. She realized her mother had come back for her only when she felt the boniness of a hand on her shoulder. She was being dragged away. A warm scream filled her throat." (24)

"***A DEFINITION NOT FOUND IN THE DICTIONARY*** Not leaving: an act of trust and love, often deciphered by children." (37)

fix er up: the cover. did not like that at all - even after i found out what it meant, i thought there were a million other images that would have worked better. yep - that's my criticism...the cover.

Title: The Book Thief
Author: Markus Zusak
Genre: Coming of Age, Historical Fiction, Printz Honor Winner

Lisa is a gamer, crafter, fangirl, mother, wife and unabashed nerd who is pretty ridiculous and it's best you know that up front. When she's not binge watching Netflix or crafting into the wee hours of the night, you can find her spending a lot of her time on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. Our friends' 10 year old daughter read this book and recommended it to me. I asked her what it was about, and when she gave me the year and the location, I said, "oh, I bet it is a sad one." She wondered how I could possibly have known. After I'd finished the book she asked me if I had cried a lot at the end - I said I cried a little, and she seemed a bit downfallen. It made me think about how, as adults, our readings are shaped so much more by our knowledge, our expectations, and our ability to control our emotional involvement. I told her I think she's having the better reading experiences.

  2. what a thoughtful insight into the different lenses we use to read - and yes, i totally agree that she had the better reading experience with that one. there were parts of this that just couldn't be as fresh if you knew the historical context...though Zusak did a pretty darn good job of making them unique, if not a new discovery.

  3. just started this two days ago and am already over half way through. we should discuss when i come out next :)

  4. This one has been sitting on myself for a LONG time. The 500 pages really is what is holding me back. My attention span can't handle it.


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