Friday, May 8, 2015

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book ThiefThe setting is in Germany, during World War II. Liesl's brother dies on a train, as their mother delivers them to a foster home. Life is hard for Liesl, but she leans on her foster father, Hans, for comfort and support. He reads with her every night, as she wakes up with nightmares, and Liesl finds comfort in books. She receives a few as gifts, she steals a few more, but her most special book is "The Gravedigger's Handbook". She found it on the ground when her brother was buried. As the months and years go by, Liesl becomes friends with Rudy. They play together, go to school together, and steal together. Liesl's step parents do their best to keep food on the table, as work and money become scarce. Then, their lives take a dangerous turn when the family hides a Jew in the basement. The only thing worse than a Jew in your basement, living among Nazis, during World War II, is a dead Jew in your basement.

Although he never identifies himself, the Grim Reaper is the narrator of the story. As you can imagine, he provides a different point of view to German life during a huge war. Liesl has an admirable obsession with books, and she has strong compassion for others. She truly loves her new papa and worries constantly about the sick Jew in the basement. She even cares about her grumpy, grouchy, insulting mama. The book shares the story of German citizens during the war, and not all citizens are pro-Hitler Nazis. Liesl's papa is one person who did not join the Nazi party right away, and his family suffered because of that decision. The author paints a descriptive picture of Liesl's life growing up, and contrasts that with the life and death reality of a war-torn country.