The Book Thief


About: "Liesel Meminger is only nine years old when she is taken to live with the Hubermanns, a foster family, on Himmel Street in Molching, Germany, in the late 1930s. She arrives with few possession, but among them is the Grave Digger's Handbook, a book she stole form her brother's burial place. During the years that Liesel lives with the Hubermanns, Hitler becomes more powerful, life on himmel Street becomes more fearful, and Liesel becomes a full-fledged book thief. She rescues books from Nazi book burnings and steals from the library of the mayor. Liesel is illiterate when she steals her first book, but Hans Hubermann uses her prized books to teach her to read. This is a story of courage, friendship, love, survival, death, and grief. This is Liesel's life on Himmel Street, told form Death's point of view."

I went through a phase a year or two ago where I combed through many blogs and book review websites searching for book recommendations. I came away with a lifetime worth of suggestions and have ever so slowly been getting through them one by one. This book was not only recommended by people from the interwebs, but also coworkers so I moved it up higher on my list and just finished reading it last night. I really liked the book and recommend it. As I've mentioned before, I enjoy learning more about the Holocaust and WWII and this book provided a new side of the story. Not one page of the book takes you inside of a concentration camp, but instead shows you the lives of those living outside the camps in Nazi-run Germany during this period of time. The story is interesting, but it didn't captivate me so I passively read it over the course of a month or two. Maybe it just takes a lot to impress since I've read so many books like this, but nonetheless, it was good and always easy to just pick up where I left off no matter how much time had passed since I last read it. The story follows the life of a young girl, Liesel. Having a child be the main character brings some added levity to the story. These are dark and terrible times, but she and her friends still have fun and do childish things which makes them relatable and a nice distraction from the more heavy parts of the story. I loved Liesel, Hans, Rosa, Rudy, Max, and the Mayor's wife. It's often heart-breaking what they must endure, but there's always an underlying sense of hope. Also, I found it very interesting that the author decided to have death as the narrator. That's a first. However, he's not morbid or grim, just the one who comes to collect souls leaving this life. He brings a unique perspective to the story.

Quotes:

While extremely well written, it was not particularly quotable. However, here are two I liked.

Page 3, Death says, “I most definitely can be cheerful. I can be amiable. Agreeable. Affable. And that’s only the A’s. Just don’t ask me to be nice. Nice has nothing to do with me.” I liked this because even death has a sense of humor. So ironic.

Page 283, “What Rudy needed at this point in time was a victory. He had lost in his dealing with Viktor Chemmel. He’d endured problem after problem at the Hitler Youth. All he wanted was a small scrap of triumph, and he was determined to get it.” “I need a win, Liesel. Honestly.” Don’t we all feel that way sometimes? We just need a win. One thing goes wrong after another and we just need something to go right for us.

Overall, it is a good book. A story about hope, growing up, survival and friendship, even in the worst of circumstances.



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