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on May 7, 2014
This book is for everyone to read. To learn of Word War II's early beginnings, through the experience of a German family's perspective, helped me to understand more about the "other side". Having the protagonist be a little girl who is searching for life's meaning and belonging too, provided a fresh dimension that never stopped moving me. Reminding me how the world appears to innocent eyes, and shapes a character's growth. And that the narrator of this story was Death itself, kept me glued to the pages. Marcus Zusak's story was written in a format that kept surprising me with it's unique format. Brief listing of the ingredients of each chapter set the stage for the unfolding of what later takes place. A kind of reassuring recipe for what is to come of the tale. Easefully he presents the horrors of war and the daily struggles of each member of a family in their needs to normalize a life which teeters beyond the brink. A brilliant author who has succeeded in painting a new and engaging picture of a history which still affects us all.
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on November 10, 2015
This is now my most favorite book. I love how the author uses words to describe the surroundings, scenery, emotions with just a few profound words, like poetry, when it takes pages for other authors to say the same thing. I did not see the movie, and I probably won't either. I can't believe that a movie could ever be as good as this book. What an adventure for a child so young. To have been loved by strangers when her world has been taken from her. Death has always been a chilling character, but this one has a circle for a heart. He admired this girl and how she adapted to everything - that which is bad, is also good in her life. I'm glad I bought this book instead of borrowing it from the Kindle Library. I will go back and reread this book. I enjoyed my time with all of these characters and was sad when the story came to an end.
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on August 7, 2017
Narrated by death. A very unique book. It took me a bit to get use to the writing style but once I did I found this to be a fast read. I think if this had been narrated in any other way it would have taken away from the story. This is an important book that everyone should read as a reminder we never forget the horrific times so many innocent people lived or died through. This story is told from a different perspective.
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on November 18, 2014
The Book Thief
This is a beautifully balanced piece of storytelling by a young Australian writer: Marcus Zusak. The book is narrated by death himself. Death is rendered vividly. He is a lonely, haunted being who is drawn to children, who has had a lot of time to contemplate human nature and wonder about it. We are introduced to this narrator in the beginning and he is with us till the very end. It gives away the end and still wants you to keep reading on.
The narrative is easy flowing with glimpses of what is yet to come: sometimes misleading, sometimes all too true. We meet all shades of Germans, from truly committed Nazis to the likes of poor Hans Hubermann who hides a Jew in the basement of his very modest home. I was humbled by the realization that most of us are incapable of doing what noble souls Hans and Rosa do for saving the human race. This is what makes this novel truly remarkable.
The author says he was inspired by two real-life events related to him by his German parents: the bombing of Munich, and a teenage boy offering bread to an emaciated, withered Jew being marched through the streets. Both the boy and Jewish prisoner were whipped by a soldier while hapless crowd looked on! It is also the way in which Zusak combines such terrible events with truly believable characters and the details of everyday life in Nazi Germany. All this made The Book Thief so special for me.
In addition to the protagonist Liesel (the book thief of the title), there are some very important characters in the story. Those who particularly stood out for me are Rudy Steiner, a close friend of Liesel who is obsessed with the black athlete Jesse Owens. Ilsa Hermann, the mayor's wife, who has never recovered from the loss of her own son. Liesel's adoptive parents Hans and Rosa Hubermann and of course Max Vandenburg the Jew decorator whose father had saved Hans’ life during the first world war when they are both German soldiers. The growing relationships between Hubermanns and Liesel and, later, Liesel and Max Vandenburg are central to the plot. Max writes and illustrates a strangely beautiful short story for Liesel over whitewashed pages from a copy of Hitler's Mein Kampf (the original print can still be seen through the paint). The powerful short story and illustrations almost broke my heart.
Hans, who can’t read very well himself, teaches Liesel to read. Liesel is effectively an orphan. She never knew her father. Her mother disappears after delivering her to her new foster parents. Her younger brother died on the train to Molching where the foster parents live. Death first encounters nine-year-old Liesel when her brother dies. It (death) hangs around long enough to watch Liesel steal her first book - The Gravedigger's Handbook, left lying in the snow by her brother's grave. Death has in his possession (I have always considered death as ‘she’) the book Leisel wrote about 1939 to 1943. In a way, they are both book thieves. Liesel steals randomly at first, and later more methodically. But she's never greedy. Death pockets Liesel's notebook after she leaves it, forgotten in her grief, amongst the destruction that was once her street, her home, her mama and papa. Death carries the book with him.
As I went through the book I kept feeling how real Liesel was! She was a child living a child's life. A life that has chores, soccer in the street, stolen pleasures, school fights, sudden passions and a full heart! Around her bombs are dropped, maimed veterans hang themselves, bereaved parents move like ghosts, Gestapo take children away and the dirty skeletons of Jews are paraded through the town.
However, there are a number of things that prevent this book from being all-out depressing. It is very powerful from the beginning but not morbid. A lively humor peeks through the pages. (a comment about German’s loving pigs, the childish chats between Rudi and Liesel). Furthermore, the vivid descriptions as well as the richness of the characters lift your spirits up. In this balanced story, ordinary Germans - those with blond hair and blue eyes are as much at risk of losing their lives, or are being persecuted, as the Jews themselves. It made me cry.
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on October 2, 2013
This book was advertised as a young adult book. I'm not sure that young adults have enough contact with or knowedge of Death to be able to understand much of the story. Told by Death, this book brings to life the emotions and devastating effects of the war on a neighborhood of regular, 'normal' Germans. The use of English language is strangely poetic for a narrator such as Death. The development of main characters as they grow from children into teens, of the hidden Jew as he wrestles with his past and his future, and of the foster parents as they struggle to survive financially is beatifully handled. Hints from Death of what the book's climax will be does not prepare the reader for the actual events. The ending is like the cymbal clang in the middle of a symphony concert, jarring and, at the same time, inevitable. A book I will read again.
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on August 7, 2014
With a prodigious use of allegory, Marcus Zusak has written an enthralling human story of ordinary people caught in the trauma of Second World War Germany. In each of the captivating pages of The Book Thief, an ethos and optimism arises from the hearts of children, momentarily displacing the horrors of the war.

Zusak chose Death, The Grim Reaper, as the narrator of his story. The protagonist is a young girl, Liesel Meminger, handed off by her mother to German foster parents after Liesel's brother dies in her arms on the floor of an unheated rail car. At her brother's burial Liesel recovers the only memory available, an abandoned copy of The Grave Diggers Handbook. Thus The Book Thief is born. This is a story of words, an accordionist, fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist fighter, thievery, friendships, love and family and above all a relationship between a daughter and step-father.

The Book Thief is a portrait of how war and the Holocaust causes ordinary people and families to reshape their lives to survive. Meet Liesel's step-father and mother Hans and Rosa Hubermann, her best friend and partner in book thievery Rudy and the Jew Max, hidden from the Nazis for two years in the basement of the Hubermann home. Zusak is such a marvelous story-teller that the journey is never predictable, even as death himself narrates the tale. The story is told so beautifully that the reader may consider clearing the time for the final 200 pages in one sitting.

A word from the Narrator: "I wanted to tell the book thief many things about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn't already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race-that rarely do I simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant."

I have not seen the motion picture but as stated many times before, a good rule of thumb is to always read the book first!

I highly recommend The Book Thief for readers of any age. Other books by Markus Zusak are Fighting Ruben Wolfe, Getting the Girl and I Am the Messenger. Read more reviews at gordonsgoodreads.com

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on August 10, 2013
I loved this book. I loved this book so much and yet feel unable to find the words to say how much. Written from the POV of Death (who knew Death had synesthesia?) this book lifts you up even as it's breaking your heart. There are so many great lines in this book, "For me, the sky was the color of Jews." What a horrible, beautiful line. When I'd read the last line of the book, I sat on my couch crying for I don't know how long. I feel like weeping again, just writing this. I"m sorry I'm not very coherent in this review, but if you take away anything from this, it's READ THIS BOOK. I read it on my Kindle, but have ordered the hardcover version, I feel the need to hold it in my hands. That's how much I love this book.
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on April 10, 2014
A beautiful book that really illustrates how people struggled just to survive and the things they did just to survive one more day.
The characters were well developed and the guider of the souls perspective speaks to your heart and not your brain. There were areas that made me gasp; stories that made me cry and other areas where I laughed and laughed.
Truly a magnificent book that I recommend
for people who want to read a book that will touch their hearts, stimulate their minds and stir their inner being over the injustices and inequalities if the time
Patricia Trone
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on May 12, 2017
Fantastic book. A friend loaned me her book and I read and fell in love with this story.
I watched the movie with my family (2 songs, ages 9 and 13) and they suggested we read the book together.
This copy was purchased for our home library for this purchase. It should be on the shelf of every home library - fantastic book!
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on February 19, 2017
I'm going to be honest.. it took me almost two months to finish this book. It is a VERY slow read but torally worth it because this book was written so beautifully. The only thing I really didn't like about the book is that Death (The narrator) has very loose lips. He likes to spoil the book and tell you the ending. Now, I watched the movie before getting to the book, so I already had an idea what would happen.. but if this was my first time ever dabbling into the world of The Book Thief, I wouldn't appreciate the spoilers. However, I didn't knock it down a star because the ending still gave me some undeniable feels. And if you watched the movie before reading the book, you would agree the movie is FANTASTIC!! The book was also amazing, but I'm surprised how much the book was chopped up for the movie. It still worked! They both worked for me. Five stars.
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