Book Review: The Book Thief

The Book Thief

Markus Zusak

Alfred A Knopf

576 pages

Leisel Meminger is a young girl growing up with a foster family during WWII in Molching Germany.  She has had a tough time, after her mother giving her up and the death of her younger brother, not to mention the fact that she is coming of age during a very serious war.  Her hope pervades all things though, and she does not let the destruction around her plummet her into despair.  Instead, she uses reading as a tool to help her cope with the chaos around her, and her insatiable appetite for books causes her to use every opportunity to snag a new book.  Thus, the book thief is born.

It feels a little counter intuitive to go any further with the plot, as it has been hashed and rehashed a thousand times in a thousand other reviews, but I must mention the fact that The Book Thief is narrated by Death.  Yes, you read that right: Death. In fact, that was probably the single most reason I picked this book up in the first place, along with the fact that every blogger known to man has seemingly read it and sung its praises.  Let’s face it, the Holocaust is a bit overdone.  For that reason, I tend to avoid books if they appear to be just another story about the Holocaust, so that special spin with the choice of narrator made me suspend my disbelief and finally pick this one up.

I will admit that in the very beginning of The Book Thief, I was skeptical. It took a little while for it to work its magic, because I just couldn’t understand where it was going to go and how the narration was going to work.  I just kept telling myself to give it a good shot because I was very confident that all the hype would pan out.  Luckily, I was right.

Liesel’s story is like none other you will read.  She is a very loveable character; even Death has a soft spot for her.  The trials and tribulations she endures are heart wrenching, yet you know she is a tough girl, and through all the desolation, hope reigns supreme.

This was the choice for my book club’s July meeting.  I was the one who picked it, which always adds a little stress because I live in fear that they will all hate the book (ahem, The Elegance of the Hedgehog).  It turned out to be a great choice because it was a quicker read.  Two of our members had babies in June, and even they were able to finish it.  The response was resoundingly positive, and we were all touched by the ending.

Let me just end by saying the hype is completely warranted.  I think I may have been the very last blogger to actually read this book, but if I am mistaken, I implore those of you who have not read it to definitely do so!

Other Reviews:

At Home With Books

Lit and Life


Devourer of Books

Care’s Online Book Club

Book Journey

things mean a lot

A Book Blog. Period.

The Zen Leaf

I purchased this book from Half Price Books.

17 Responses

  1. So good! I especially liked the main character’s family being ‘normal German’ during the war – if that can even be said, but maybe I haven’t read a varied set of Holocaust books.
    I have read this twice and it was just as fresh and moving and SO GOOD. My book club loved it, as well and we still had plenty to talk about. Sometimes when we all like a book, the convo never picks up, ya know?
    PS – I searched for chicken & spinach casserole but found MANY. 🙂

  2. My husband took along time to really get into it as well but he also ended up loving it. I loved the whole community aspect of it and how the street interacted with eachother.

  3. Everyone raves about this book, yet I seem to keep putting it off. It’s even on my shelf! One of these days…

  4. I absolutely loved this book, but like you, it took awhile for me to become invested in the story. The structure was a little odd for me at the beginning, but it really worked. I’ve linked to your review on War Through the Generations.

  5. Very nice review — I appreciate the ‘warning’ to stick through the beginning. I cracked up about your apprehension that your book club would hate this book — that I get! Glad it was a hit with everyone!

  6. Nope…I may be the last blogger to read it. I have it on my shelf but just haven’t taken the plunge yet. I’ll keep in my mind when I do read it to stick with it. That’s good information to know. Great review!

  7. Yay! Glad it lived up to the hype for you. I loved it early on, but then I’ve got a thing for snarky narrators. 😀

  8. I still haven’t read this yet, so you definitely weren’t the last! I do have a copy though, so I’ll get to it eventually.

  9. I haven’t read this one yet – I bought it a while ago, but have hesitated to read it because of all of the hype. I’m glad to see it’s warranted.

  10. It looks like you’ve outed several of us who haven’t read it yet. I’ve put it off because, for one reason or another, I read a string of Holocaust books and I had to stop. But you’ve made me interested. Thanks for this great review.

  11. This is one of my all-time favorite books! I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed it as well and I’m hoping to get the chance to reread it soon!

  12. Nope I think I’m the last one LOL!! I do have if sitting on my shelf…. I know I need to read this one!!

  13. I am glad you posted this review. Like you, I am skeptical of Holocaust books. It sometimes seems like kind of a cheap way to tug the heartstrings. That sounds awful, I know, but I teach at a Jewish school, and many of my students’ grandparents are Holocaust survivors, and it seems like sometimes authors and moviemakers use it as a gimmick to sell books/tickets. And you can’t criticize them for it or it looks like you are saying Holocaust stories shouldn’t be told and before you know it, you’re a horrible person when you didn’t mean it that way AT ALL. But since you liked it, I am willing to give it a try.

  14. I got into this book right away. I normally hate reading but i read this book in 3 days.

  15. This was indeed an artfully-written book well worth the hype!

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