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Literary Friday: The Book Thief

Friday, August 17, 2012


This week I read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  I decided to read it because my daughter is reading it for her summer reading assignment, and she is enjoying it.  I could not put this book down, and I am thrilled this is the book Shelley chose.

"It is 1939 Nazi Germany.  The country is holding its breath.  Death has never been busier, and will become busier still."

Death is the book's narrator.  He tells the story of Leisel Meminger, a young girl who becomes an obsession when he first sees her at her brother's death. Leisel steals her first book, The Gravedigger's Handbook, near her brother's graveside.  She is illiterate, and the irony is not lost on Death.

Leisel's little brother died on a train en route to their foster parents, Rosa and Hans Hubermann.  Hans lovingly teaches her how to read, and although it takes a long time for her to catch-up with her classmates, her hard work eventually pays off.  Leisel shares her love for books and her reading skills in her assigned bomb shelter by reading aloud, which quietens young children and calms her neighbors.  One day, Leisel adds to her library by rescuing The Shoulder Shrug from a Nazi book burning.  She grows increasing paranoid as she suspects someone saw her rescue the book from the bonfire.  Her suspicions are confirmed when the mayor's wife allows Leisel access to her personal library.  Leisel begins stealing books from the mayor's wife's library, and also joins a gang of young boys who steal produce from farms.  Her best friend Rudy teases Leisel about her preference for book thievery over food and starts calling her The Book Thief.

Death has another encounter with Leisel when she and Rudy discover a crashed pilot in his cockpit, and then again when bombs obliterate her street in Molching.  But before the tragic bombing that would destroy Himmel (Heaven) Street, the Hubermanns hide a Jew named Max in their basement. Leisel and Max share a love for words and stories.  Max spends much of his time writing, and Leisel looks forward to reading Max's stories. Leisel writes her own story, and finishes it right before the bombing.  Left behind in the rubble, Death becomes the Book Thief when he rescues Leisel's book from a garbage truck.

There are so many things to love about this book.  I loved Death as the narrator, and the fact that he is "haunted by humans."  He allows himself mini vacations by observing and cataloging colors in his mind, especially the colors of the sky.  The figurative language in this book is so beautiful, and I caught myself sighing over several lovely passages in the book.  Death says that sometimes he allows stories of humans to distract him from his work as colors do.  Leisel Meminger's story is a worthy distraction for anyone at any age, not just young adults.

The Book Thief trailer

What have you been reading lately?

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill


  1. Thanks for this review Ricki. I have been intending to read this book for a while and now is the time. Have a great weekend!

    Susan and Bentley

  2. this sounds sooooo good. it's on my list!!

  3. Ricki Jill,

    I read this book with my book group some time's such a good story.

    I'm so glad some of the scary stuff was taken care of. I'm happy you are keeping your blog public for now, but I certainly understand.

    Have a wonderful weekend and I look forward to seeing what you've been up to with the paint and brush/roller.

  4. I loved this book as well and just finished it a week or two ago! It's my evening book club's August selection.

  5. It is great isn't it, I will add my review for The Book Thief to this weeks party.

  6. I read this several years ago, and it sticks with you. It was a phenomenal book (I'm glad it was so thick because I didn't want it to end). Every vignette, every episode was necessary for the tale. It's so haunting, arresting, and yet so endearing. There were scenes that were just difficult to read because of the emotion.

  7. nice review i may have to check this one out

  8. You know, we have this book! Both my kids have read it, but I was always afraid to read it. It does sound interesting though. Maybe I'll give it a try.

  9. ...OK, that's on my list. Thanks for your wonderful review Ricki Jill!

    Now, for some important stuff...I have a little something for you so stop by my blog and find out when you have a moment.

    Ciao bella,

  10. Hey R...

    I read this book a few years ago and found the point of view just fasinating. good to know that some of the more modern YA books are now being incoporated into reading lists. I really beleive that genre has come a LONG way over the past 3 decades.

    Thanks for the great review. I'm in a bit of a reading slump but I know I'll get past it soon.


  11. ciao sono passata per un saluto complimenti a presto lu..

  12. I have been hearing about this book. Looks like a good read!


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I'm Ricki Jill. Welcome! I'm honored that you're reading my blog. I enjoy sharing my creative lifestyle @ The Bookish Dilettante. For more information about my blog, please read the Start Here page. Thank-you for stopping by, and I hope you'll consider following me via email.

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