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Publisher: Random House
HERE IS A FACT - YOU ARE GOING TO DIE. It’s 1939 in Nazi Germany and everyone in the country is holding their breath. Death has never been busier. Liesel is nine and living with her foster family on unremarkable Himmel Street. Her parents have been carted away to the concentration camps. She steals books. This story is hers and the inhabitants of her street when the bombs start to fall. HERE IS SOME MORE IMPORTANT INFORMATION - DEATH NARRATES THIS NOVEL. It’s a little story, about a girl, an acc...
It doesn't feel fair to even review The Book Thief, because I will never be able to sum up just how brilliant this book is. From the start, Zusak's writing is exquisite and oddly concise- Death as the narrator of this tale speaks with haunting clarity. The little things that are written about, like Rudy's hair, the color of lemons, stick with you.
I would be amiss to neglect discussing the characters, who range from loveable to loathsome and are all fleshed out so beautifully. Liesel is a quiet heroine, one who is very human. She is perhaps not the most remarkable girl but she does have a remarkable story to tell, and that is part of what made me feel connected to her. I loved seeing the world through her eyes, and how her perspective changed as she grew. And perhaps most of all, I loved watching her forge relationships with those around her. Her foster parents, Hans and Rosa, were such beacons in a sad, dark time, and in my mind they drew comparisons to Matthew and Marilla from Anne of Green Gables. It was so beautiful to see how their love for Liesel blossomed, as well as their different expressions of it. Her best friend Rudy is such a charming scoundrel that I could cry thinking about him, truly. The way he and Liesel would trade barbs and give each other a hard time was such a realistic expression of friendship and I cherished the chapters of their escapades together. Max is a strange character for me, because I feel like I know everything about him but hardly know him at all. His relationship with Liesel is so special, and the books and sketches he created for her were some of the highlights of the entire novel for me (particularly The Standover Man).
I thought there was generally a nice flow and pacing to the plot (I initially found it a little slow but that's my own fault for having seen the movie first). I was enraptured even in the tiniest parts, like Liesel reading aloud to her neighbor. And the ending, of course... suffice to say, I didn't stop crying for the last fifty pages at least. The Book Thief is a novel that will win your heart and then dismantle it, but you won't care. It's worth it. To quote the book itself: "...but on this occasion, I have to say that although it broke my heart, I was, and still am, glad I was there."