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This review is from: The Book Thief (Hardcover)
During World War II near Munich, Germany, nine years old Liesel Meminger finds a tome The Gravedigger's Handbook while attending her younger brother's funeral. Unable to resist she takes the book with her. However, she is unable to read the book until fate steps in. Her father is missing and her mother cannot afford her upkeep so she gives Liesel in care to foster parents, acerbic Rosa Hubermann and her kindhearted spouse Hans, who owes a Jew his life.
Hans helps Liesel cope with her nightmares and teaches his ward to read. His chance to pay the war debt to the Jewish soldier who saved his life finally occurs when the man's son, the artist Max, arrives at his house seeking shelter. As Max paints over pages of the Mein Kampf, Leisel steals books from Nazi burnings and begins to write about living at a time of misery caused by fellow humans. If the Nazis catch either one, Death will be a welcome guest.
This is a complex book in which the narrator Death tells the tale of Liesel and Max. Interestingly Death is a cynic when it comes to human behavior especially kindness towards others; the apparition recognizes that his best suppliers of goods are people who in spite of their Golden Rule ramble contain homicidal tendencies rationalized by an ism of some sort. The fascinating asides to the readers are brilliant as they enable the audience to understand the cast he looks upon adding to his collection, but especially Death itself. Give yourself plenty of time, over a week or more, as Markus Zusak has written one of the most haunting tales of the human condition in several years.