The Book Thief By Markus Zusak

Nov 9, 2013 | 2013 Articles, Fantasy & Fangs, Terrance V. Mc Arthur

by Terrance Mc Arthur

Death is the narrator.
It takes place in Nazi Germany.
It’s a novel for teens.
It’s 550 pages long.
It was written by an Australian, Markus Zusak.
A movie version is about to be released.
Why would anyone want to read a book called The Book Thief?


When she is losing everyone she loves, Leisel finds a book…and takes it. We all have to endure loss and we need to find a way of coping. Some people drink or use drugs. She becomes a book thief.

Rudy lives in the Germany of Adolf Hitler, and he idolizes Jesse Owens, a fact that sets him apart from the thoughts of his culture. He likes Liesel, but they are only 10 when they meet, so they don’t understand how to relate on a romantic level. They know about kissing, but she isn’t interested…yet.

Hans Huberman doesn’t seem to be much of a man. He paints houses and plays the accordion to make a bare living, but the Nazi Party doesn’t trust him, so his prospects are few. He becomes Leisel’s foster father to get a small stipend, but he shows a basic kindness. When the dangerous fruit of a long-ago promise reaches his doorstep, his true nature is revealed.

Rosa Huberman is mean, foul, blunt, and will really expand your knowledge of German profanity. She does laundry to make ends meet, and has no kind words for anyone. She seems unlikable, and it is hard to find what Hans found to love in her, yet hard times and problems bring out the grit and steel…and the humanity…in her.

Max is a Jew. A promise from the past gives him safety for a while, and a young girl gives him hope.

Death is overworked and has no chance to relax, especially when humans do such a good job of destroying one another in large groups. He survives it all by noticing small things like colors of the world, and the ways that people keep going despite the problems of life.

This tale of small occurrences plays out against the backdrop of a horrifying chapter of history, yet the people are the most important part of the story. The language they speak is coarse, but the characters are from the “wrong” side of town. Zusak plays with words, with, meanings, with expectations, and with the characters.

It’s a book that will make you think. I only hope that the film will do it as well.

Watch for a review of the movie soon!

Terrance V. Mc Arthur is a California-born, Valley-raised librarian/entertainer/writer. He lives in Sanger, four blocks from the library, with his wife, his daughter, and a spinster cat.


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