The Book Thief

The Book Thief

Book - 2006
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Trying to make sense of the horrors of World War II, Death relates the story of Liesel--a young German girl whose book-stealing and story-telling talents help sustain her family and the Jewish man they are hiding, as well as their neighbors.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf : Distributed by Random House, [2006], 2005.
Edition: 1st American ed.
ISBN: 9780385754729
9781101934180
1101934182
Branch Call Number: TEEN FICTION Zusak Markus
Characteristics: 552 p. ;,22 cm.

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Opinion

From Library Staff

Trying to make sense of the horrors of World War II, Death relates the story of Liesel--a young German girl whose book-stealing and story-telling talents help sustain her family and the Jewish man they are hiding, as well as their neighbors.

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JCLEmmaF Feb 03, 2017

Trying to make sense of the horrors of World War II, Death relates the story of Liesel--a young German girl whose book-stealing and story-telling talents help sustain her family and the Jewish man they are hiding, as well as their neighbors.

Trying to make sense of the horrors of World War II, Death relates the story of Liesel--a young German girl whose book-stealing and story-telling talents help sustain her family and the Jewish man they are hiding, as well as their neighbors.

Trying to make sense of the horrors of World War II, Death relates the story of Liesel--a young German girl whose book-stealing and story-telling talents help sustain her family and the Jewish man they are hiding, as well as their neighbors.

Comment
JCLBarbG Jan 09, 2014

The narrator really pulls the listener in with his sardonic tone of voice.


From the critics


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a
andreabilyeu
Aug 11, 2020

I saw the movie first, but, as is so common, the book is better. I would never have associated colors and death together.

v
vrohit
Aug 09, 2020

A very subtle concept guides this novel, and it is the goal of the reader to figure it out. There are several ways to interpret the novel - but the main plot, one that must be understood, is the struggle of Jewish families to stay alive during World War Two. It teaches us the importance of morals and love, but it also introduces us to reality for Jews during World War Two. This story is also very sad, as we can see life for Jews during the war and Jews, who are purely innocent, being bullied, harmed, massacred. It's absolutely horrific to witness humans treating other humans in this way. This story exposes the truths of World War Two and helps others understand reality during that time. Zusak does a perfect job of establishing points of views of main characters throughout the novel. Nice read!

s
Sean_Exon
Aug 04, 2020

The Book Thief is a historical fiction that took place during WWII in Germany, narrated by Death who came to collect the souls of those who died. The story takes the reader through the plight of a teenage girl named Liesel. Through her foster parents, she learned two of the most important lessons that shaped her life, 1) learn to read and 2) show compassion toward the Jews even if it means great personal danger. Throughout the story, she stole books that the Nazis forbid. She read to neighbors to help them take their minds off the war and death that surrounded them. In further defiance of the Nazis, her foster parents hid Max, a Jewish boy, in their basement. Eventually Max was found and was led to a concentration camp. The war came to Liesel’s town and her street was destroyed. Everyone she loved perished leaving her the sole survivor.

This is one of the best books I have ever read. I appreciate the story from the historical perspective to the German citizens resisting the Nazis. I find the most interesting character in this book to be the narrator, Death. A lot of people are afraid to die, but here, Death is afraid of human because he has seen firsthand the evil and destruction human are capable of. I appreciate that the book shows the destruction that Nazi Germany caused and that many German citizens during WWII defied the Nazis to help the Jews. Overall, I cannot think of one bad thing to say about this book.

PimaLib_ChristineR Jul 23, 2020

Unlike most readers, I came to The Book Thief because I read Bridge of Clay, a book that I love and highly recommend. Many reviews were not glowing and the general sentiment seemed to be "this isn't as good as The Book Thief." Wow! I thought, better than this? I have to read it. And now I will spin those reviews and say The Book Thief is no Bridge of Clay.

Zusak is an exemplary writer. His writing takes me back to the early realists and naturalists, a style like Crane or Dryser. But rather than just presenting a "slice of life" Zusak is grappling with big themes here: the meaning (or lack) of life, the randomness of death and what it means for those left behind. Death, the narrator of The Book Thief, tells the reader he needs a vacation from "the leftover humans. The survivors. They’re the ones I can’t stand to look at... the ones who are left behind, crumbling among the jigsaw puzzles of realization, despair, and surprise."

But his exemplary writing is lacking one thing here, a feel for the personal. There is a reason I compared Zusak to Crane and not Steinbeck. And that difference is what makes an author popular for his time and the other becomes a classic, popular well beyond his own lifespan. Perhaps the personification of Death was meant to bridge that lack, but if so, it didn’t work. And so, while I appreciate the technicality of the writing and the subject matter, for me, The Book Thief lacked the heart of Bridge of Clay.

m
maroon_cat_560
Jul 23, 2020

I had seen this book on the Great American Read and thought, "that sounds boring". But when I was at a loss for what to read, I saw it, remembered it, and tried it. I was instantly gripped by the book's compelling, poignant prose and unique narration. It was far from boring. On the other hand, it was extremely influential for me. I finished it in three days because I was so hooked by it, and the story is just amazing. Bittersweet and brilliant. The book is without doubt the most emotional I've ever read, and made me cry about five times. Not just tears or sniffles- actual crying. Like, put the book down I have to take a break crying. The emotion is raw, and honest, and unforgiving. Another part of the book I liked is that Death was the narrator. But Death wasn't cold and sadistic, he was forgiving and compassionate, and rueful. The beauty of the narration was also in its dark but still slightly humorous irony, and the "small facts". Another concept that I appreciated in the book was that it followed a girl who was expected to support Hitler. I haven't read very many books about World War II, but those that I have read are all narrated by or follow a character who is oppressed by the Holocaust, most being Jewish themselves, or a character who experiences the war outside the grip of Nazi territory. This is the first one I've read about a character expected to support Hitler, and I liked the new perspective. The characters are amazing, unique, and compelling. My favorite character was Max Vandenburg, who had a trauma-filled background but who, despite his childhood violence, was a very kind person. His character connection with Liesel is strong and inspiring, and his quiet boldness is one of his best character traits. His daydreams of fighting the Fuhrer, audacious sketches, and compelling stories make his character. Another character I loved (I loved most of them) was Rudy. He's mischievous, kind, loving, and at times I would even call him selfless. Sure, he steals, but he steals for his family. His love for Liesel shapes his character. His constant line; "How about a kiss, Saumensch?" makes him lovably naughty. Mr. and Mrs. Hubermann, Liesel's foster parents, are also wonderful characters. The messages of the book are extremely deep and meaningful. I think the most important thing about this book is the frequency of its small miracles. Though Himmel Street seems to be an impoverished world, full of hunger and sadness, there is still joy. Like how in the end, after all seems lost for Liesel Meminger, she is reunited with Max. If she hadn't been, I would have thrown the book down in frustration, calling it "DEPRESSING". But there's a difference between sad and depressing, and though the book was sad, it was not depressing. Actually, it's the best book I've ever read.

s
SkywalkerRanch
Jul 22, 2020

I got this book from the library for the beanstack reading program. At first, when I read what time it took place, I didn't think ide like it but I was wrong. The book was slow at first but then it got exciting. The characters were awesome and I like how death narrates it. In the book, there are several words in german but the author gives the English word as well. I was even motivated to learn German. This book was Wunderbar.

p
PHejazian
Jul 21, 2020

This novel is narrated by death. He talks about a little girl growing up in Germany through the holocaust. The young girl teaches herself how to read, which helps her through hard times. Her family must protect a Jewish person without getting caught. This book is highly descriptive and uses many motifs. Through the value of words, the young girl makes the best out of every situation. This book is not saddening, so you don’t have to worry about feeling depressed. It uses many humorous statements to lighten the mood. I liked how this book was able to talk about something depressing and make it seem lighthearted. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a better understanding of the Holocaust and government intervention in people’s education.

s
ShravanP
Jul 17, 2020

The Book Thief revolves around the life of Liesel Meminger, a German girl whose family shelters a Jew during the Nazi regime. The story is primarily character driven, but the author creates each character incredibly well. From Liesel to Rudy (her neighbor) to Liesel’s parents to Max, the Jew, each character has a unique personality and problems. One different concept in this book is how it is narrated by the personification of Death, who provides a fascinating outlook into all the characters’ psyches, while adding his own style of narration to the book. It’s prose is also one of its highlights - oftentimes I found myself utterly engrossed in the book just reading descriptions of things solely because the prose was so good. The ending is hands down one of the best endings I’ve ever read, and will leave a very strong impression on anyone that reads it. Overall, I think this book was one of the best I’ve ever read and I’d rate it a 5/5.

r
Rosieyxl
Jul 11, 2020

This may be one of my favourite books ever. The story is hard to start, and I remember myself not finishing it back in Grade 7 because I couldn't make sense of the beginning. However, trust me when I say it gets better, because it really truly does. I won't drone on and bore you but this book was very emotionally compelling and it is an EXTREME tear-jerker. If you haven't read it yet and are wondering whether you should try it, yes, yes, YES. Do it now, because quarantine has us all at home anyways.

You can even talk to me when you're done and we can cry together :D.

a
abc123abc123123
Jul 07, 2020

The Book thief was a great book that made me keep wanting to read more. In the story there was a little girl named Liesel who was brought to a foster home. She created a very strong bond with her foster father but she wasn’t on as good terms with her foster mother as they did fight a lot. Liesel’s foster father, Hans, begins to learn that she struggles to read so throughout the story they become best friends as Hans helps her to develop her reading skills. I really enjoyed how the author kept the story interesting and there was not one part where it was slow or boring.

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Age

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s
Sean_Exon
Aug 04, 2020

Sean_Exon thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

p
PHejazian
Jul 21, 2020

PHejazian thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

a
abc123abc123123
Jul 07, 2020

abc123abc123123 thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

t
tamyerpi
Jun 18, 2020

tamyerpi thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

t
tang88260_0
Jun 14, 2020

tang88260_0 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

n
NicePerson_290
Mar 07, 2020

NicePerson_290 thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

b
black_cat_3443
Feb 18, 2020

black_cat_3443 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

v
VanessaL52
Feb 01, 2020

VanessaL52 thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

i
ikokwu
Jun 01, 2019

ikokwu thinks this title is suitable for 11 years and over

i
indigo_bird_126
Apr 01, 2019

indigo_bird_126 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

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Quotes

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s
swilson1975
Jun 14, 2018

"I carried them in my fingers, like suitcases. Or I'd throw them over my shoulder. It was only the children I carried in my arms."

v
violet_crow_41
Aug 26, 2017

*** A LAST NOTE FROM YOUR NARRARATOR***
I am haunted by humans.

susanbayridge69 Oct 04, 2016

First the colors.
Then the humans.
That's usually how I see things.
Or at least, how I try.

k
katie_bos
Jan 05, 2016

"It was a Monday, and they walked on a tightrope to the sun."

e
elaine_malit
Aug 05, 2015

Imagine smiling after a slap in the face. Then think of doing it twenty-four hours a day.

m
maaariiisol
Jul 28, 2015

A small announcement about Rudy Steiner. He didn't deserve to die that way.

m
maaariiisol
Jul 28, 2015

How about a kiss, Saumensch?

m
maaariiisol
Jul 28, 2015

Even death has a heart.

j
Julia_Kh
Jul 03, 2015

" How about a kiss, saumensch ? "

f
FatimaNasir_1
Jun 28, 2015

“If only she could be so oblivious again, to feel such love without knowing it, mistaking it for laughter. ”
― Markus Zusak

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Notices

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j
Jamie510
Jul 25, 2020

Other: Your life and heart will change especially your innocense about history in general.

v
VanessaL52
Feb 01, 2020

Frightening or Intense Scenes: Nazis Germany

v
VanessaL52
Feb 01, 2020

Violence: Nazis Germany

t
Tawesome
Apr 04, 2017

Other: YOU WILL CRY

susanbayridge69 Oct 04, 2016

Coarse Language: Some curse words

m
maaariiisol
Jul 28, 2015

Coarse Language: The bad language is in German, but Death translates it to English. Nothing serious, but certainly not for younger readers.

m
maaariiisol
Jul 28, 2015

Frightening or Intense Scenes: a few gruesome deaths, bombings, lifeless bodies.

m
maaariiisol
Jul 28, 2015

Violence: Some whipping.

y
YewandeO
Jul 01, 2015

Frightening or Intense Scenes: The "parade" of Jews was a bit frightening, and the whipping and war.

y
YewandeO
Jul 01, 2015

Violence: Some whipping, fights, and other violence related to war.

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Summary

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r
readingfairy
Jan 03, 2018

Liesel Meminger is only nine years old when she is taken to live with the Hubermanns, a foster family, on Himmel Street in Molching, Germany, in the late 1930s. She arrives with few possessions, but among them is The /Grave Digger's Handbook/, a book she stole from her brother's burial place. During the years that Liesel lives with the Hubermanns, Hitler becomes more powerful, life on Himmel Street becomes more fearful, and Liesel becomes a full-fledged book thief. She rescues books from Nazie book-burnings and steals from the library of the mayor. Liesel is illiterate when she steals her first book, but Hans Hubermann uses her prized books to teach her to read. This is a story of courage, friendship, love, survival, death, and grief. This is Liesel's life on Himmel Street, told from Death's point of view.
(Summary in back of book.)

geniusgirl613 Jul 23, 2014

The story of a young girl under Nazi Germany. When her family hides a Jew in the basement, her life changes forever. Her thirst for books begins when she was illiterate. Slowly, books play an enormous part in her story.

j
Jaklinetobe
Jul 14, 2014

About a Germany girl during WWII who is living with a foster family hiding a Jew.

2
22950008513780
Jun 29, 2014

Liesel Meminger, an illiterate girl in Nazi Germany loves books. At her brothers funeral she finds her first book, the Grave Diggers Handbook. With the help of her foster father, Hans Hubermann she learns to read and desires more books. However with World War 2 her family is sinking deeper into poverty and cannot afford to buy her books. So she resorts to stealing them. She takes them wherever she can find them, but only what she needs never more. But Liesel's life gets even more dangerous when her foster father repays a debt by taking in a Jew on the run. Liesel then realizes some unsettling facts about Nazi Germany and Hitler. This book is Liesel Meminger's story, told by Death.

d
DragonflyEwa23
Jun 25, 2014

In brief, I will say a few things about this book (I am on my mothers library page) 1. It is amazing
2. Always look at the pictures they feature very intensely in the story.
The Book Thief
the book thief is about young girl, living in Nazi Germany, who, as the title suggests, is a book thief. Or a collector of second hand books, however you wish to put it. Narrated by death, it will guide you through great joys and great sorrows. (A note, death loves colours, Also, I have noticed the colour patterns in a few other books) Liesel steals her first book at her brothers funeral. That was the last time she ever saw her mother. Along her "illustrious career" her foster parents take an old, dead, acordian playing, jewish friends son into the custody of their basement. A basement that will save her alone, well, along with a story. The basement doesn't save her best friend, Rudy Stiener. I'm not telling any more, otherwise I'll spoil it for you.

d
Draw
Jul 19, 2013

"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."

p
pojo6865
Jul 05, 2012

Introduction: During WWII in 1939, Liesel and her brother are being taken to Molching, Germany with her mother, to live with foster parents. Sadly, her little brother dies on the train and is buried along the way there. This is when Liesel steals her first book, (Gravedigger’s Handbook- marks brother’s death). Entering her new home, Liesel finds most comfort and love with her new father- Hans Hubermann. Stealing books becomes somewhat of a hobby now, as it motivates her to learn to read and write. An important aspect of the introduction is the hint at Liesel’s background. She learns more about why, how, and what actually happened to her real parents. As of right now, all we know is that Hans is gentle/welcoming, and that Rosa may need anger-management classes.
Rising Action: After the book-burning celebration for Hitler’s birthday, Liesel realizes that the Nazis are responsible for all of her losses. At this point, she steals another book (the Shoulder Shrug- marks hatred for Hitler). Along with her friendship with Rudy Steiner, good friend from school, she forms a relationship with the mayor’s wife, who lets Liesel in her library every time she comes by for laundry (as she saw Liesel’s interest in stealing the Shoulder Shrug). But when the wife, Ilsa, ends the laundry service, Liesel is infuriated and begins stealing her books. Eventually though, forgiveness awakes due to a complicated friendship that was always present. Back to Rudy, he’s a fearless boy with lemon hair, and he wants Liesel’s lips. Remember that. Meanwhile, there’s the story of Hans Hubermann and his great friend during WWI who saved Hans’s life and died in consequence. This friend happens to be a Jew, and his son is now seeking help with Hans, in hiding from the Nazis. Expectedly, the family is worried about the potential situation, since the act of housing a Jew in WWII was life-jeopardising. But they do, and Max turns out to be very friendly. So does Rosa. Especially Hans.
Climax: A series of little events tagged along for the journey to the climax. But, everything explodes when Max leaves for safety. Liesel is…she’s devastated. But, there is worse to come. He’s seen in a hoard of Jews on their way to Dachau, and this just tears the girl apart. Soon after, Ilsa gave Liesel a blank book. This saves the girl’s life, keeping her busy writing in the basement in an unexpected bombing. Sadly, all of Liesel’s loved ones die in their sleep. Death takes his time picking up Rosa, Hans, Kurt... Oh yeah, Rudy dies too, but at least he gets his long-awaited kiss from Liesel. Too bad it happens like this.
Falling Action: Well, the climax occurs late in the book, and in consequence, there’s not much to be said in this section. But, it is notable that Liesel drops her book in shock of everybody’s death (book = her life-story painted on the beloved blank pages from Ilsa). Death picks it up. The book is to be remembered. The mayor’s wife takes her in. Liesel talks with Alex Steiner. About Rudy. I’m sorry, am I being too specific?
It’s...well...just that......I love this part.
Resolution: In the epilogue, Liesel dies. But, she has lived a happy life with a husband and offspring. We also see Liesel being reunited with Max, having miraculously survived his sentence at Dachau. The book ends under a fulfilling atmosphere as Death gives back her book and takes her soul away. “I am haunted by humans.”

SharonWarren Jan 20, 2012

I started this book and it just didn't keep my attention, so gave it up, for a time. It had been so highly recommended I knew it would come back on my list. When next I picked it up I was ready for it and absolutely loved it. An engrossing, warm, and thoughtful read about a very difficult time.

f
FrostyViolette
Dec 15, 2009

An amazing story that takes place during World War II in Nazi Germany. Death narrates the story of a young girl named Liesel and her life living with her foster parents, the Hubermanns.

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