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4.6 out of 5 stars
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Showing 1-10 of 13,769 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 17,472 reviews
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 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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on April 19, 2014
It was a unique book and from a unique perspective - death. This is not a spoiler, it is spelled out in the beginning. I felt a real kinship with the characters and didn't want the book to end. If you've seen the movie and liked it, which I did, the book supplies so much more detail. I saw the movie when I was only a third of the way through the book, but it made me want to get back to it to learn as much as I could about the characters. The book touches on the Holocaust, but it is mostly about the average German families and what they endured under Nazi rule. I had it downloaded to my Kindle and read it only while I used the treadmill. My sessions were quite long and frequent because I wanted to keep reading.
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on January 28, 2017
It was my second read. The author's alliterations give the book a new, vivid language. I loved it. Having lived in Germany during the time Markus Zusak describes, I can appreciate the settings described, although my family was sophisticated and never used a "four-letter-word." What bothered me was the name Saumensch, something I heard living in more southern German areas--sometimes used a teasing-kind of nick-name. It jarred me never-the-less. Maybe intentionally, as it never took me out of the story. The movie was equally good.
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on June 1, 2017
Despite the historical savagery of Nazi Germany, this author was able to convey kindness, giving, acceptance and love by fostering a little girl and a Jew. Death, the narrator, was almost human. The balance of these with the horror, sadness, dying and fear of war, stirred every emotion in me and in the end, Hope prevailed.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon November 10, 2008
My book group chose this as our November selection -- even though we are between the ages of 46 - 55 and this is classified as YA. It was wonderful !!

This book follows Leisel Meminger from the age of 10 to 14 or so with an epilogue after her death. She is a young German girl living in a small town outside of Munich during the days of Hitler/Nazi Party/World War II. Her story is narrated by Death who talks about her life as well as those people closest to her such as her foster parents and neighbors. The level of detail in the writing brings her story alive and is told in such a creative fashion that I'm sure I won't forget it for a long, long time and I will probably re-read again in the future.

My father served in WW2 in Europe and was wounded in France by the Germans. I have always viewed that time in history through an American lense. This book really opened my eyes to what it must have been like for the German civilians caught up in the tyranny of the Third Reich and all the horrors of Hitler. I had never really considered the event from their point of view and I am so glad I was given the opportunity.

I would categorize this book as YA (not younger than high school) or adult fiction due to two things:

1) the novel is pretty graphic in places regarding war injuries as well as the horror the Jews suffered.

2) the narration can be jarring as it goes between Death and the "people" in the book. While a 7th or 8th grade student would probably be fine with the vocabulary and the style, there would need to be a real effort put forward on their part. I think it might feel more like a classroom literature assignment for that age group where, by waiting a year or two, they could truly enjoy it.

A truly great book and highly recommended !
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on April 29, 2014
So much has been said about this book and it's all positive. One often hears about a book being "un-put-downable" - well, in the case of The Book Thief, this is not an exaggeration! It was my first book on Kindle and thank goodness it was - because I could read it under the bedcovers without complaints about "keeping the light on". From Saumensch, to "he with hair the colour of lemons", every character in the book came to life. What I liked most about this book was the fact that the plot describes the lives of ordinary - and very poor - Germans who didn't have any truck with people who were Jewish (or of any other denomination). They hated the war and just wanted to get on with their lives. The author tells the story from their viewpoint and evokes vivid images of people who themselves are just pawns in the Game of War. It was also chilling the way Death "narrates" the story. You almost feel sorry for the ol' Grim Reaper because he seems to be in a job he hates! I recommend this book highly - you won't be sorry you bought it!
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on May 20, 2014
The biggest problem with this book is that once I started reading it, I did not want to put it down. I had seen the movie, but the book is so much richer. I pretty much read it in one sitting. I loved the historical detail. If Hitler was supposedly a man of the people, that did not include the decent people, those who bravely held on to their humanity. Having suffered terribly in and after the Great War, the decent poor were the hardest hit by Hitler's foray into armed conflict with most of the rest of the world. Death as the narrator was a brilliant device. It was one of the ideas that survived the movie making process for good reason. I completely recommend this book, but I warn you: clear your schedule.
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on July 21, 2015
The Book Thief is beautifully written. Markus Zusak turns a phrase and his analogies in describing scenes are poignant. Though, some say the book is for youth because the main character is young, there is no reason adults shouldn’t read it. The Diary of Anne Frank was universal.

The story is touching and special. It is different than other Holocaust or World War II books in challenging our assumptions and our capacity for understanding. Death narrates the story. How unique is that? Can Death be objective?

The story begins in 1939 Germany (and ends in 1943), as 10-year old Liesel Meminger is on a train with her mother and six-year old brother. The brother dies. They get off the train to bury him and Liesel, unable to read, picks up the book the gravedigger drops, a manual on grave digging. It is her first book theft.

She is to be put in the foster care of Hans and Rosa Hubermann on Himmel Street (“would anyone bomb a street named Heaven?”) in Molching, on the outskirts of Munich. They are an older couple with two grown children, the son a staunch Nazi. The reader’s – at least, mine – assumption is Liesel is Jewish, who is being rescued by a non-Jewish couple, but she is not Jewish. There are inferences later that her father might have been a Communist.

Liesel calls Hans and Rosa Mamma and Papa. The loose end is the neighbors unquestioning about this when they know there were two older children.

Rosa is acerbic and verbally abusive toward her husband and Liesel. Hans is the calming influence, tending to Liesel when she is awoken by nightmares, using the time to teach her to read, using the gravedigger’s manual.

Despite the tenor of Nazi Germany and specter of war, the children of Himmel Street engage in the innocence of childhood. Liesel becomes immediate friends with the boy next door, Rudy Steiner, and she is the only girl in the street soccer games. Rudy gained fame a few years earlier, when he was so impressed by Jesse Owen’s four gold medal performance in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, he painted his face and went to a local track to copy Owens. That did not go over well.

The children attend school and obligatory Hitler Youth meetings. Everybody hangs Nazi flags on Hitler’s birthday. You don’t hear the children utter Anti-Semitic comments, so maybe in this corner of Nazidom, these German children weren’t accepting the brainwashing propaganda. Rudy gets in trouble with the Hitler Youth leader when he tries to explain Tommy Müller can’t keep in goosestep because he is hard of hearing.

Hans’ application to the Nazi Party has been rejected or delayed and he doesn’t seem to care. As a painter, many of his customers were Jews. Now that the Jewish neighborhood has been ransacked, he no longer has work.

A Jewish man saved Hans’ life in World War I, which cost the man his. Now, the parallel story begins. Twenty years later, the man’s 22-year old son, Max Vandenburg, shows up at the Hubermann’s door. You expected Rosa to yell at Hans, saying they are at danger if they hide Max. Instead she feeds Max soup. Her manner changes from that point.

A special relationship develops between the two protected people. He, too, is haunted by nightmares. There are great differences. He is hidden in the basement. Liesel has a room upstairs. Max must be a secret. Liesel can go out and live. She brings him the crossword puzzles from the newspaper. He asks for weather reports, since he can’t even look outside.

With war arriving, rationing hits Germany, too (just as in Europe and America). Rudy and Liesel join gangs going on expeditions stealing apples from farms. Liesel, with Rudy often as lookout, steals books from the Mayor’s wife’s library. Meanwhile, Max is sketching and writing a book about his experience, The Word Shaker, to be given to Liesel at another time. Words and books play a central role, and a reference is made to Hitler coming to power on words.

The challenge is can we identify with these people? After all, they are German. Germany was the enemy. That was difficult with the movie, Das Bot. What comes across in The Book Thief, is there are innocents in all wars on all sides, and it’s usually children. Once when their end of Himmel Street is in a bomb shelter, Rudy’s father is able to coax everyone to hold hands.

“From other shelters, there were stories of singing “Deutschland über Alles”…No such thing happened in the Fielder shelter. In that place, there was only fear and apprehension…The cold hands melted into the warm ones, and in some cases, the feeling or another human pulse was transported. It came through the layers of pale, stiffened skin. Some of them closed their eyes, waiting for their final demise, or hoping for a sign that the raid was finally over…Did they deserve any better, these people? How many had actively persecuted others, high on the scent of Hitler’s gaze, repeating his sentences, his paragraphs, his opus? Was Rosa Hubermann responsible? The hider of a Jew? Or Hans? Did they all deserve to die? The children? The answer to each of these questions interests me very much, though I cannot allow them to seduce me…I pitied them, though not as much as I felt for the ones I scooped up from various camps in that time. The Germans in basements were pitiable, surely, but at least they had a chance. They were not sent there for a shower. For those people, life was still achievable.”
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on December 31, 2014
Unique perspective on the people experiencing WWII--from those living every day lives within Germany and their challenges in coping with live under the boot of Hitler and his Nazis. Beautifully and lovingly told from the biggest victor of that war--Death,

If you have seen the movie, you will know the book almost to the page, but not with equivalent character development, depth and insight. Nonetheless, having seen the movie the book will be more easily followed and understood. Both are wonderfully well conceived, realized and delivered to we fortunate enough to share them. The characterizations, characters/actors and settings are directly traceable between movie and book as is the development and realization of the plot. Not Hollywood shoot 'em up this one--full of special effects, blow us, crude language and overdone sex--just beautifully conceived, imaginatively written, perfectly executed and delivered human story in both mediums. If you like an interesting, real-life human drama, rich with the realities, fears, frustrations and joys of real-live victories; you with treasure this book and the movie it generated.
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