The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief

Markus Zusak
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It is 1939. Nazi Germany. By her brother's graveside, Liesel Meminger's life is changed when she picks up an object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger's Handbook, left there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words. But these are dangerous times.

Publisher Description

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger and her younger brother are being taken by their mother to live with a foster family outside Munich. Liesel's father was taken away on the breath of a single, unfamiliar word " Kommunist " and Liesel sees the fear of a similar fate in her mother's eyes. On the journey, Death visits the young boy, and notices Liesel. It will be the first of many near encounters. By her brother's graveside, Liesel's life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger's Handbook, left there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery.

So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordion-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor's wife's library, wherever there are books to be found.

But these are dangerous times. When Liesel's foster family hides a Jewish fist-fighter in their basement, Liesel's world is both opened up, and closed down.

The Book Thief is a story about the power of words to make worlds. In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.

Prizes
Shortlisted for British Book Awards: Waterstones Newcomer of the Year Award 2008.

Staff Reviews
  • The Book Thief is truly exquisite. While set in WW2 Germany it is not a history lesson; its narrator provides a most unique perspective on things; and it plays around with form and structure (but not too much). It successfully juggles all these elements but at its heart The Book Thief is a tender story about Leisel, a girl growing up in a complicated, violent world. Zusak is a gifted writer and for us he crafts a little street in Germany, peoples it with characters you fall in love with, and builds to a powerful conclusion, with a final line that still gives me goosebumps today.

    Reviewed By

  • Despite its amazing premise, I put off reading this book for three years because it had received such universally glowing reviews I thought it couldn't possibly live up to the hype. I was wrong. The novel is narrated through the eyes of Death as he follows young German girl Liesel, the book thief of the novel's title, as she and her foster family harbour a Jewish man from the Nazis in World War Two Germany. Dark humour abounds in this astonishing read that kept me up into the wee small hours of the morning to finish it.

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The Book Thief

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