I have enjoyed books and films about World War II since I was a young girl, and it is one of my favorite time periods in history to study.
When my librarian asked if I had read The Book Thief, I told her I hadn’t, and she couldn’t recommend it enough. In fact, she even pulled up the trailer for the film adaptation for me to watch. After the preview, I was fascinated!
“The book thief had struck for the first time- the beginning of an illustrious career.”
The Book Thief begins in Germany in the year 1939. The most unusual aspect of the book, by far, is the perspective it is told from: the perspective of Death.
He recounts the story of the life and times of Liesel, a young girl who comes to live with Hans and Rosa Hubermann on Himmel Street. We watch as Liesel grows up over a period of four years, as she learns to read, becomes best friends with her next door neighbor, Rudy Steiner, helps her foster parents hide a Jew; but most of all, we watch as Liesel rebels against Nazi Germany in a unique way: she becomes a book thief.
“I should have told you earlier.”
A note of caution for parents: while The Book Thief is a tender story of love and courage in the face of persecution and danger, it deals with some very mature themes. There is a hearty helping of foul language in The Book Thief, including several instances of the Lord’s Name being used in vain. There is also beatings, deaths, and a suicide, as well as the recounting of when three boys are required to undress and be examined by a Nazi doctor, but if you are familiar with the writings of Corrie ten Boom, I do not think you will find it any different.
“I am haunted by humans.”
I have to admit, that at 550 pages, The Book Thief was a bit daunting to begin with, and I found the first few chapters (about the first 50 pages) to be a bit slow.
While certainly not a perfect book, I found The Book Thief to be moving and powerful. I would give the book a B-.
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