The Book Thief was poignant. Markus Zusak shows us Nazi Germany (roughly 1939-1943) through the journal of a little girl, known as the book thief, and a very tired Death. Death tells us the tale of the book thief (he found her journal during one of his travels that crossed paths with the Book Thief) and Nazi Germany in such a way that was embracing, grim, and straightforward with a dark yet consoling humor. Like I said, Death was overworked and tired during that time of his existence. He only had so much time to tell us his tale of the book thief. He even gives the reader spoilers, without apology, in his impatience to keep the story moving. The book thief, a child in her early teens when she writes her journal, gives life, love, hope and realistic glimpses into the lives of the people on Himmel Street, outside of Munich.
I was not sure how I would feel about The Book Thief when I talked myself into taking the time to read it, but I feel like it was a fantastic book and I was thankful I took the time to read it (especially since it sat on my to-read bookshelf for about 2 years), to absorb the stories and history in it, and finally to enjoy Zusak’s book as a whole. The book itself was also broken up into sections and then short chapters, creating easy breaks in the reading. Zusak’s writing style was lyrical, profound and vivid. When Death takes a soul, he always describes what color the sky is outside. It is almost poetic when Zusak describes what Death felt like during this time of the war. Zusak also writes The Book Thief so that it is never completely depressing or morbid. There is humor, hope and a richness given to the characters that create an almost uplifting book.
I would recommend The Book Thief to anyone, probably high school age and up. From page one you know you are reading something special and unique. I agree with the critics that it is, or will be, considered a classic novel for future readers. It has a unique voice, and gives life and depth to the ordinary lives of people stuck in wartime Nazi Germany.