The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – A Book Review

I’ll be honest, this book bored me to tears during its first three-quarters.

However, the last quarter practically moved me to tears.

The Book Thief is a prime example of getting the reader involved.  It’s filled with such minutia, it details the day-to-day lives of the characters in such great detail and at such exhausting length, that when the author finally starts dropping bombs, the men and women in this novel have become a part of your very existence and that makes their eventual fates all the more poignant.

If you’re unfamiliar with The Book Thief, it follows the story of Liesel, a young girl who is taken in by a foster family after losing her own.  Ordinarily this doesn’t sound too extraordinary, but the setting is 1939 Germany, and Liesel’s foster family, though German, hides Jews.  It just go much more interesting, didn’t it?  Furthermore, Liesel is a book lover, and though she only has a hand full, she wants more, and she’s willing to risk life and limb to get them, hence – The Book Thief.  As the months pass, we get to know Liesel better and better, we get to know her foster family, we get to know the people on her street, and we fall in love with each and every one of them without meaning to.

Perhaps the books most striking aspect is the narrator – Death himself.  Death has taken an interest in Liesel, and though he is a very busy man, especially during those days, he still pops in to see where her life is taking her.  Of course, life takes us all ultimately to him, Death, and Zusak offers no sentimentality when Death must do his duty.

I highly recommend this book, and for those who decide to take it on, please do remain resolute.  It can be a bit of a chore, but the end result makes it all worthwhile.  I wanted to put the book down on frequent occasions, but I’m so glad that I did not.  I count it amongst my favorites now, but it demands patience and attention from the reader, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.