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Book Review on The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Trevor H., Team 3

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Genre:  Historical fiction

What is death to you? Do you embrace it or fear it? Do you think words can really control people? In The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, death is more than just someone who collects the dead. Death narrates a story about a little girl named Liesel Meminger during the World War II. During this war, Liesel ends up living in a town called Molching in Germany with foster parents. This is a touching story of love, friendship, family, and survival during one of the worst times in history. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is a 539 page historical fiction novel written for students seventh grade and older.

There are many interesting characters in this book. Death tells the story and on the very first page of the book, he introduces himself, “Here is a small fact – You are going to die. I am in all truthfulness attempting to be cheerful about this whole topic, though most people find themselves hindered in believing in me, no matter my protestations” (page 3). Death begins to tell a story about a girl named Liesel Meminger who he refers to as “The Book Thief.” Liesel is a young girl who is traveling with her younger brother. They are being forced to leave home and live with foster parents. Liesel’s brother dies and she steals her first book, The Gravedigger’s Handbook. Death first notices Liesel when he is picking up her brother. He follows her life and is able to narrate her story. It is World War II and her story is a sad one, but it is also filled with nice things too, like love and friendship. Liesel’s foster parents end up being good for her. Hans Hubermann is a man that is a very loving to all people. He would stay in Liesel’s room and comfort her when she needed it most. Hans Huberman would try to make her smile all the time and was always up beat and happy. “He was a painter by trade and played the piano accordion” (page 33). Rosa Hubermann, on the other hand, was usually grouchy and mean to Leisel. This was her way of getting across that she loved her. She may have been rough around the edges, but she meant well inside. Max Vandenburg was the Jew the Huberman’s hid in the basement and cared for, for as long as they could. He and Liesel built a relationship off of their love of words. Liesel once read to Max when he was very sick and it helped him. Rudy Steiner was Liesel’s best friend. He would stand up for Liesel and make sure to include in games. Rudy once went into the freezing river and retrieved a book for her after bullies threw it in. He always asked Liesel to kiss him. These characters were interesting and through them readers can learn the message of the book.

One of the themes of the story is on the friendship and love needed to survive horrible times. An example of this is when Liesel formed a bond with Max that is unbreakable and gave him a reason to live. She read to him when he was sick and it helped him heal. Another example of the theme is that Leisel read to everyone in the shelter to calm them and get their minds off of the bombs. And after that a woman asked her if she could read to her. Leisel went and did this and as a result it made the woman less stressed. All these examples show that if you are kind to someone it can change their life.

I personally enjoyed this book, especially the point of view. I never thought of death as having feelings or being like a real person. Death was shown to like certain things and actually he did not like all the killing during the war. In addition, I enjoyed Liesel’s character. Liesel’s friendship with Rudy was entertaining and easy to relate to. Liesel was creative in her friendship with Max; I loved when she brought snow into the cellar so that they could build a snowman with him and how she would give him daily weather reports because he wasn’t allowed to look out the window in case anyone saw him.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is a unique story to read. The point of view and characters make this a story to remember. The situations in the novel bring people together in a way that is nice to read. I would recommend this book to anyone who would like a novel set during a war and to anyone who would like to see an interesting perspective, death.

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Book Review on The Book Thief by Markus Zusak