book review: the book thief

Title: The Book Thief

Author: Markus Zusak

Genre: Fiction (young adult)

Publishing date: 2005

Publisher’s summary: Trying to make sense of the horrors of World War II, Death relates the story of Liesel – a young German girl whose  book-stealing and story-telling talents help sustain her family and the Jewish man they are hiding, as well as their neighbors.

cover art for the book thief
The Book Thief, Markus Zusak


Favorite quotes:

“The only thing worse than a boy who hates you: a boy who loves you.”

“I am haunted by humans.”

“I have hated the words and I have love them. And I hope I have made them right.”

“Sometimes people are beautiful. Not in looks. Not in what they say. Just in what they are.”

Synopsis: Narrated by Death, The Book Thief tells the story of a small town outside Munich during World War II. In that town, there are families who love Jews and families who fear Hitler, all trying – above all else – to simply survive. Most closely, the story follows Liesel Meminger as she is dropped off with foster parents by her Polish mother. Liesel’s love of books becomes a focal point of the novel as she begins stealing them from around the town, making plenty of friends – and enemies – along the way.


Sometimes, I feel silly loving a young adult novel as much as I love The Book Thief, but then I remember how good it is and think, I don’t care. Every page of this book is dripping with tension, fear, and hope.

You don’t just fall in love with one character, you fall in love with every character. And not because every character is perfect and lovable, but because every character is flawed and human and multi-faceted and so uniquely well-crafted. More than any book I’ve read before, The Book Thief helps you begin to understand the unbearable fear the entire country lived in during this time, the severe pressure to align with the Nazi cause, and the many consequences of not doing so.

That the novel is narrated by Death only makes it all the more haunting. But Death is crafted as a compassionate, gentle collector of souls. I found the way that Death is portrayed to be so comforting, it shifted my entire perspective on dying. And his voice is quite unique, even poetic, making reading his words all the more enjoyable.

From start to finish, this book is powerful, terrifying, and relentless. It will break your heart, but I promise, it will be worth it.

Overall: 5 out of 5

Who should read this book: Anyone who loves a good book. Really, just anyone. This book is beautiful.

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