Book Review: The Book Thief


Hallie Lint

     I’m a book-lover at heart, so when I get a new book, I have to read it immediately. Markus Zusak wrote The Book Thief and published it in 2005. Sixteen million copies have been sold of this historical fiction novel, and it has a movie adaptation to go along with it. When my mom bought me The Book Thief, I had no idea what the storyline was, and I had never heard of it before. While reading it, I was surprised to find myself looking up at the clock to realize that it was past midnight (which happened more often than I’d like to admit). I have some pretty high standards for what books I enjoy, and The Book Thief definitely makes the cut.


     The story of The Book Thief is told by Zusak’s version of death personified. Death sets the scene of a young girl, Liesel Meminger, who arrives in the town of Molching, Germany to live with a foster family during World War II. Liesel’s foster parents, Hans and Rosa Hubermann care for her as best as they can despite their low income and food rations. It takes Liesel a while to accept her new home and family, but she eventually learns to accept her new life. The story also follows the many adventures of Liesel and her best friend Rudy (he’s one of my favorite characters). Things get complicated when the Hubermanns agree to hide a Jew, Max Vandenburg, in their basement, and one false move could end it all. A friendship quickly grows between Liesel and Max, and Liesel realizes that they have more in common than she thought. Throughout the book, Liesel develops a love of words that all started with stealing “The Gravedigger’s Handbook” at her brother’s funeral.


     No book is perfect. There will always be a character you despise, a boring chapter, or more often than not, the tragic demise of your favorite character (which happens way too often). I like most of the characters in the book (like Liesel, Rudy, Hans, and Max, to name a few). However, there are a few characters that I could easily live without (like Frau Diller, Viktor Chemmel, and Franz Deutscher). If you are looking for a book that is a light, happy read, The Book Thief may not be a good choice. The plot is on the dark and depressing side of things since it takes place in Hitler’s Nazi Germany. Unlike most books, the novel’s ending is revealed before the story develops. I was extremely shocked because no other book I have read has done this before! 


     Even if you are not a big reader, The Book Thief is still a great book to check out. Don’t let the size of the book scare you; it is well worth reading (and I would totally reread it). The storyline is anything but redundant, and it constantly had me wondering what would happen next. Overall, I give The Book Thief a four out of five-star rating for the book length, storyline, and likable characters.