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on October 20, 2013
I just finished reading this book and I wanted to rush here to write down my thoughts but now I realize that there are too many to summarize in a simple book review.

Many have said this about "The Book Thief" but it is truly an endearing story. Throughout the entire book, I kept thinking to myself, how can the same species of human beings be so absolutely dreadfully evil and also be so strong, brave, hopeful, and loving?

The evil side of humanity was shown, obviously, in the power plays of Hitler shown not primarily through a Jew's point of view like a lot of Holocaust/WWII stories but from the point of view of a living-in-poverty German family who were also victimized by Hitler, obviously in a different way but stricken nonetheless.

The hopeful and loving side of humanity was shown not in the obvious ways. But in the way that Liesel and Rudy always stood by each other no matter what even while throwing insults at each other. In the way that Hans embraced a girl as his own daughter without question. In the way that the mayor's wife indirectly gave Liesel her most treasured possessions and, eventually, a safe place to grow up. In the way that a little German girl connected with the Jewish young man hiding in her basement and created a bond of souls that surpassed words (though ironically created by words themselves through books).

And although the subject of this book was very heavy and dark, there were moments that made me laugh. Not because the circumstances were funny, but because of the things the characters would say in such circumstances. For example, after Liesel and Rudy steal a plate of cookies, their most pressing thought is, "What are we going to do with the plate?"

But there are 2 lines in this book that are so profound and will stay with me forever. The first line serves as a wonderful example of how artfully Markus Zusak wrote this story. The book is narrated by death and at one point death says, "It kills me sometimes, how people die." What an interesting and ironic line. Even death itself can be shocked at how people die. I would like to think that if death was a personified being, he really would say something like that.

The second line is the last line of the book. We readers are concluded with death's last note, "I am haunted by humans." As this beautiful, tragic tale comes to an end, I too am haunted by humans--the characters of this story.

Read this book.
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on March 21, 2015
Outstanding and Haunting Story of a young girl in Nazi Germany. I won't discuss the content, only how the book is told from the point of view of Death. I enjoyed watching the author's video here on amazon. I read the book a few years ago and I kept the book. Most fiction books I donate to my library or turn them to a consignment store. As a WWII biographer, I have a comprehensive library of books that I won't give up - this book is one of them. In my travels in Germany, I've listened to many stories of German veterans and their families and friends. If you can even get people to talk that is. I don't insist, but the horror of war still lurks. The horror of destruction of all that one has built - safety in homes - safety in trusting one's police - trusting in one's government - this didn't exist in Nazi Germany. It was Fear, prevalent fear. An incredible book in a story that I'll never forget.
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on January 10, 2014
I blame THE BOOK THIEF for stalling my reading. After I finished, I just couldn’t get into anything else. Nothing had the passion, heart, perspective, and “umph” that THE BOOK THIEF has. (Thankfully, THE ART OF RACING THE RAIN got me back on track.)

There is no shortage of holocaust-themed books. Really, there’s no shortage of excellent holocaust-themed books (Anne Frank, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, The Pianist, Night, and Maus are just some of the amazing books on the subject). However, THE BOOK THIEF must be added to the list of greatness. This book provides a unique perspective by giving Death the role of narrator. Throughout the book, we are given the perspectives of Communists, children, Germans, and Jews. It makes it a well-rounded journey.

There will be tears, some sad, some happy.

I wanted to wait until I saw the movie to write this book review, but I still haven’t seen it yet. I heard it’s great, but just from what I’ve seen in the movie trailers, many key ingredients have been changed. Without giving away too many spoilers, the relationship between the young girl and young boy aren’t quite the same, mostly in regards to the knowledge exchanged between them.

PROS: amazing read—500 pages flew by
CONS: hard to enjoy other books after this one
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on September 11, 2016
What a wonderful story of Germany before and during the World War II years. Our main earthly character is Liesel a young German girl who's brother dies as they are heading to their adoptive parents in a rural suburb of Munich. From there we follow Liesel as she develops and becomes literate with the help of her adopted father, her curiosity and nimble fingers.

It's a wonderful story narrated by the Grim Reaper who adds background and describes for us the horrors that young eyes might be seeing at the time. The characters are so well developed you'll feel you know them.

It's hard to give such a wonderful book credit through a review. Just look at the high rating this book has across the span of, at this time, 18 - 19,000 reviews. It's standing the test.
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on May 6, 2014
After watching the movie, I hesitated in reading the book. The movie was great, but it was to me a different story. Zusak's characters were not black and white people, which I found interesting and as an adult I could understand both Liesl's POV and a grown up perspective. Why the movie chose to make some of the people seem more like the bad guys I don't understand. I was able to see many different types of people were not the devout Nazis they were supposed to be and Death's views on humanity instead of the whole right and wrong issues were both interesting sections to me. I wasn't prepared to feel compassion for anyone who was a Nazi, even if they were only a fictional character.

This isn't the first time I've read Death as a character and often I find Death is as involved with the humans in the story as I, the reader, am. I suppose it's a bit like bird watching, I enjoy all the birds and even though they squabble amongst themselves I am an outsider and therefore don't feel as passionately about what happens between them. I can appreciate each one and find beauty in all of them. Death is a lot like this in The Book Thief.

I wasn't quite sure about the ending of the book, Liesl's end of life left many questions for me. I tried to piece what I saw in the movie and match it up with the book, but am not sure if that's how Mr. Zusak saw it. This was a hundred times better than the movie and I loved the movie.

This book is appropriate for both older children and adults. I think children should discuss the book with an adult after they've read it, because the whole WWWI and WWWII topic is something that should be talked about frankly and openly.

Great job Markus Zusak!
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on April 27, 2017
I'll admit it, I saw the movie first. After seeing it I went straight to the library and borrowed the book. I have always been meaning to buy it, and when I saw this unusual cover art I knew that I had to have it.....the image of Liesel dancing with Death is a very powerful one. The book itself is a fast read, but there are times when you just have to stop for a minute and take it all in (good times and bad). It's heart-wrenching though, so although I don't read it often I do think that it is a very well-written novel, and it is one of my favorites.
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on December 17, 2016
Anyone who is truly interested in the life of a young girl during the Holocaust would love this book. The Book Thief is a work of fiction so it is not a true story but with how it is written you could believe it. From the first line I fell in love with this book, Liesel Meminger is such a brave and spirited little girl and you can see how she becomes a brave and spirited young lady. Overall, buy this book because it's worth it. There is some heartache in here but what would you expect. So I hope you choose this book and that you love it as much as I did.
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on May 4, 2012
I was ambivalent about this book regardless of the positive reviews; however, I went ahead and placed a hold on it at my local library.

When I started reading 'The Book Thief' I felt a bit perplexed and felt maybe this book wasn't for me. After the first few pages I decided to put the book away and pick up the reading the following day. Instead of the following day, I continued a few hours later. I am glad I decided to continue reading and not return the book, because, `The Book Thief' is now one of my favorite books. And I have bought it to add to my collection.

I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer so I had to ponder a few times what the writer was trying to relay. In other words, the book will make you stop to think - it's not one of those books where `red' means `red'. You will find lots of similes and metaphors throughout the book.

The story of Liesel's life is beyond captivating and the writer made me feel as though I was actually there during her highs and lows. Liesel is charming, funny, witty and a young girl who's been through loss and abandonment but somehow managed to get beyond her early struggles.

The characters are all alive, with their own peculiar personalities; their different stories of life to tell. The characters are almost palpable and not one of them can be called boring.

The story of Liesel's life is narrated by Death - yes, `death', as in, the Grim Reaper. You'll find Death to be quite a comic, likable and almost human. With a very busy work schedule.

This book brings out various emotions and quite frankly, I cried when I read some aspects of the book. It was a very emotional read, some people may say depressing. However, it was worth reading.
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The Book Thief's beauty is in its simplicity. The book is narrated by Death, and he tells us the story of Leisel Meminger a young German girl who at onset of World War II, has already endured some very difficult personal trials. Through The Grim Reaper's narration we follow Leisel's new life on Himmel (German for heaven) Street in the fictional town of Molching. We meet a cast of characters meant to show us what life was like for the average German citizen as the Nazi party hurled the world into war.

The book gets its title from Liesel's taking a book dropped on the ground during a very traumatic moment in her early life. This book is used by her step-father to teach Leisel to read and write. Through these teaching sessions, she develops a strong bond with her step-father, and a love for words and reading and writing and of course, books. Throughout the novel Leisel does what she can to procure new books and she uses them to enrich her life and the lives of her friends and neighbors. The most poignant moments come as Leisel and a houseguest, Max, share their love of reading together, and He creates some books for her. This "guest" is a young Jewish man whom the family takes in and hides at great risk to their own safety.

Through Leisel and her small world we see the Nazi party gain a foothold with nearly every citizen in town. We learn that there are real and personal costs to individuals who disagree with the party. We see what it was like to live with rationing. We watch as a populace does nothing and often even joins in on the harassment of the Jews in their town. Soon they are all gone and we are taught the price that individuals might pay to help a Jewish friend with the Nazi machine at full power.

I say that the beauty of this novel is its simplicity because so many of the insights are delivered through the stories of children and their daily lives. It was somewhat reminiscent of Huck Finn in that regard. Death communicates in simple, short sentences, and the writing is beautifully to the point; poetic.

The Book Thief is a novel that manages to be beautiful despite its subject matter. It is a novel that you will feel more than you will read.
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on August 5, 2015
Excellent book...kept my interest. To me, it was seeing the life of the German family during the war...but I know for a fact, the German population was all for Hitler and his henchmen, even though the book shows the average German under the heel of the military and police....I have a hard time buying that as we all can see films of the German people salivating over the monster Hitler, and all of the dead Jews. I do believe the average Germans were the ones that gave the Nazi party the encouragement to do exactly what they did. Yes, the German people suffered towards and after the war, but to me, the great majority opened the door and welcomed the killings that led to their sufferings. It's the children in the book that are also victims and this book clearly shows that but when men crave war, it's inevitable the innocent children are victimized.
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