Book Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery...

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

Can you imagine risking your life in order to read?  No?  Well, that's what Liesel does in The Book Thief.  I love reading so much, sometimes I wonder if I would risk my life to get books, if all of my books were burned or banned. 
This is a dark story, told from the point of view of Death, set in Germany before and during World War II.  Liesel steals a book before she even knows how to read, and her foster father teaches her how to read from The Gravedigger's Handbook.  Imagine that kind of subject matter and content being your first book!  Liesel goes on to keep stealing books, namely from the mayor's wife, who is aware of Liesel's theft but does not turn her in. 
Liesel's most important relationship in the book, in my opinion, is with Max Vanderberg, a Jewish fistfighter who hides out in Liesel's foster parents' basement.  He shares Liesel's love of reading and even makes her two illustrated books about his life story.  The Book Thief is a moving, touching story about living in Germany during World War II, but mostly it is about a young woman rebelling against the German regime.

Just One Gripe:
It is a sad book, and very dark.  How could it not be---being about Germany during World War II?  The fact that Death is the narrator is another contributing factor to the darkness. 

The Best Thing About This Book:
Liesel's triumph over her circumstances.

Appropriate for a younger audience:

Characters: 5/5
Plot: 4/5
Setting/Imagery: 5/5
Originality: 5/5
Ending: 4/5
Total Score:  23/25


  1. I read this a few years ago and loved it beyond words. I even gave it to my parents who also loved it. I should read it again. It's definitely a classic.

  2. This is one of my favorite books ever. I've read it four times and have listened to it on CD. It's amazing, and though it's dark, I think that there's a lot of light. There is love and joy and those characters! Oh my. Love this book.

  3. @ DeRaps... is it good on CD? I think I might get this one on audio


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