The Book Thief - in Review

For Julie's April Blogger book club selection, we read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. 

This book has been on my list as one to read for quite some time, probably since the summer of 2009.  It came up as a "recommended for me" on goodreads, so I added it to my "to read" list.  This book club has finally given me the excuse to read it (in case I didn't have it before!)

From Amazon:
It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.
It was one of those books that kind of touches your heart.  Leisel "acquires" her first book on the way to meet her foster parents with her little brother.  Her brother dies, right in front of her, and at his burial she finds the book on gravedigging.  Her new foster father finds the book and decides (even though I think he might be a little creeped out by the content) that a good way for her to learn is by reading the book TO her. 

Hans Hubermann, her foster father, seems to align himself with Leisel through the books and music.  Initially the connection is him coming to her when she wakes herself screaming because of the nightmares she is having.  But he works on her and is there for her and continues to develop his relationship with her which is ultimately fulfilled with the accordion and reading.  I wondered throughout the book if he spent so much time trying to develop a relationship with her due to his own absent children, especially Hans Jr, a member of the Nazi party.

While the entire book is overshadowed by the death and destruction happening in Germany at the time, and there are some obvious signs of it, it is definitely not too overpowering in the book.  I believe it is there to show what was happening at the time and to show the proper context of the story.

What did you think of the book?
Did you think Nazi Germany was too prevalent?


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