The Book Thief

Written by Marcus Zusak
Review by Sara Wilson

1939, Nazi Germany. Liesel Meminger, the daughter of a communist, is the eponymous Book Thief, and her story is told by Death. Even before she could read, Liesel loved words, and that is why she will steal three books and one of the reasons she hates Hitler and his book-burning regime. Fostered by the Hubermanns and living a rough and tumble life in the back streets of Munich, Liesel learns the value of books and the power of words from her foster father, Hans.

The brief safety of life in Himmel Street, forever overshadowed by political unrest and tensions Liesel barely understands, is to be ended forever with the coming of the bombs.

If we are all going to die, why is Death more afraid of us than we are of him? The Book Thief has the answer: because he can see the terrible things we do to each other. And that sums up the book in a nutshell. It is powerful, compelling and bleakly truthful. As Markus Zusak says himself, Liesel’s love of words is a statement on their importance for the Nazi regime and what they were able to make people do and believe.

The Book Thief is a great read containing some startling imagery and truly inspired scenes. Liesel herself is a well-judged combination of naivety and resolution, an eloquent heroine in spite of her lack of education. This is a must-read for anyone who loves books and believes in their ability to influence mankind.