There are a lot of amazing books in the world that can move a reader. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is one of those novels that makes one of my all-time favorite list. It is a sad and beautiful tale of struggle, defiance, and how powerful a book can be.
The Book Thief: Summary
Death tells us the story of Liesel Meminger as she and her brother board a train to Germany during the Second World War. Her brother doesn’t survive the trip as Liesal arrives to Molching, Germany. Hans and Rosa Hubermann are Liesel’s new parents and help guide her past her trauma while surviving Nazi Germany.
Liesal befriends a young boy named Rudy who competes with her in everything. Their rivalry blossoms into a strong friendship over time. But the influence of the Nazi party reaches the town of Molching and everyone Liesal knows is affected by it.
One day, Hans hides a jewish man named Max Vandenburg in the basement of their home. At the same time, Hans starts teaching Liesel to read. Over time, Liesel and Max become good friends as their interest for reading and story telling brings them together.
As the war goes on, people start leaving or get taken by the Nazi’s. Once a thriving town, Now Molching is a ghost town. And The Hubermann are treated horrible because of Hann’s hatred of the Nazi party. His obvious distaste of the party catches up with the family as they are punished. And Death watches us on from afar.
You know a book touched millions of people when it is translated into over 60 languages and has sold over 16 million copies. This is one of those novels I have on my shelf and like to read every few months. Zusak wrote a masterpiece that is going to be read for decades and centuries to come.
There are a lot of books about World War II and the Holocaust. Yet Zusak was still able to write the novel from an interesting perspective and it adds a lot to the novel. Death doesn’t understand humans yet even he becomes invested in Liesel’s journey and sees it through to the end. We expect Death to be sympathetic to Liesel’s struggles but Zusak one ups the reader and our expectations.