The Book Thief
The extraordinary #1 New York Times bestseller that is now a major motion picture, Markus Zusak's unforgettable story is about the ability of books to feed the soul.
It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.
Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who 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.
In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger, has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.
What people are saying - Write a review
The Book Thief is so amazing that once you start reading it, you can't leave it.
This book is about a German girl named Liesel Meminger who just wants to read books, this book is basically set during the time of World War 2, actually a few years before World War 2.
The whole story is narrated in such a way that people just cannot stop reading. They come for more.
The Book Thief is narrated by Death (yup, you heard that right) who tells us the story of Liesel Meminger. It's January 1939, and ten year old Liesel is traveling by train with her mother and her little brother Werner. Liesel and Werner are being taken to the small town of Molching, just outside of Munich, Germany, to live with foster parents Hans and Rosa Hubermann.
Werner dies on the train of mysterious causes having to do with poverty, hunger, cold, and lack of medical treatment. Before Liesel arrives in Molching, she attends her brother's burial in a snowy graveyard. She steals The Grave Digger's Handbook from the cemetery after it falls from a young grave digger's coat. The kicker is... Liesel can't read.
Liesel is reluctant to enter the Hubermann house on Himmel Street, but is coaxed by her foster father, Hans, to whom she takes an immediate liking. She's not sure about Rosa, though. Liesel begins school, but suffers because she doesn't know how to read yet. She also meets Rudy Steiner, who is soon to be her best friend (not to mention her partner in book and food thievery).
One night, Hans finds The Grave Digger's Handbook hidden in Liesel's mattress after her usual nightmare of seeing her brother dying on the train. This is what inspires him to begin teaching her to read. When Liesel learns to write, she begins composing letters to her mother, but these letters go unanswered. Finally, we find out that her mother has disappeared.
Liesel becomes aware of what it really means to be living in Nazi Germany when a book burning is organized to celebrate Adolph Hitler's birthday on April 20, 1940. She finds the mound of literature being burned fascinating but super-disturbing. Now that she can read and write, she has come to see great value in books and words. When Liesel hears a Nazi spokesman calling for death to communists as well as Jews, a light bulb goes off. The only thing she knows about her father is that he was accused of being a communist. She realizes that Hitler is likely behind her father's disappearance, her brother's death, and her mother's disappearance.
When Hans confirms her suspicions after the book burning, Hitler becomes Liesel's sworn enemy. This is a dangerous conflict for a young girl in Nazi Germany. Hans warns her against voicing her anti-Hitler opinions in public. This conflict helps drive Liesel to steal her second book, The Shoulder Shrug, from the burning pile of books.
Turns out that Erik Vandenburg, a Jewish man, saved Hans's life during World War I, giving up his own life in the process. After the war, Hans visited Erik's widow and young son. Now, that son is twenty-two and is hiding from the Nazis. His name is Max, and Hans is his last hope for survival.
Upon learning of his plight, Hans readily helps arrange for Max's journey to Himmel Street. When the desperately starving and exhausted young man arrives, Hans and Rosa hide him in their home. At first, Liesel isn't sure what to think of Max, but they soon make fast friends. Meanwhile, Max's arrival and his suffering produce a change in Rosa, for the better. Liesel is amazed to see her courage and her softness.