The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is one of those books that I’ve been meaning to read for ages but it just sat on my shelf waiting to me to pick it up. Well, I finally got to it. So good – love, love, love! It’s a story about a recently adopted girl (Liesel Meminger) growing up in Nazi Germany during World War II, told from the point of view of Death, but it’s not really a holocaust story – think of it as a coming of age story in a war torn country, with Death as the narrator.
Now what made me love this story – what made me sob, snot streaming out of my nose and tears blurring my eyes when I got to the final 30 pages – was the characters. Honestly, you can have a fantastic plot, great writing, but if your characters are dull as dust your book is going to stink. The Book Thief has characters you treasure. The story follows Liesel as she grows up and the gems in the story are in the way she connects with people. There’s a long list of characters that are connected with Liesel in various forms but the truly beautiful points in the novel are found in the time she spends with her foster father, or with her childhood best friend Rudy, or with Max, the Jew her family is sheltering in their basement (mild spoiler, sorry).
Through these unique and delicate human connections the story slowly unrolls spanning 7 years. One of the other points that makes this story absolutely fantastic is Death – one of the better narrators I’ve seen in a book. Death is sarcastic, uncaring at times, and human, very human. The connections between Death and Liesel, short and brief as their meetings might be, are some of my favorite scenes in the story.
Bottom line: love this book – I would highly recommend it to almost anyone!