Book Review: The Book Thief, Markus Zusak

The Book Thief

Goodreads Blurb:

It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.


My Thoughts:

This is a novel I had been meaning to read for a while. Both family and friends have been telling me for years that I would love it, and quite stupidly, I think it was just that which put me off reading it. Whether it was the possibility that I wouldn’t like it even though they said I would, or the fact that they had told me I would definitely get very emotional (to say the least), I’m not sure. Quite possibly it was both?

However, I picked up a second hand copy of the book at the university Thursday markets, and at that point there was no turning back. I have never regretted ‘not reading a book sooner’ more than I did in the moment I finished reading Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief.

The Book Thief is one a part of a very small group of books where I have not been able to physically move for quite a while after finishing because I have been so overwhelmed by either emotion, the writing, just the plot in general, or some deeper meaning. With The Book Thief it was option ‘E’, all of the above. This was one of those novels which has left me a sobbing mess on the couch with a box of tissues, a near empty packet of Maltesers, and the feeling that I had just experienced a whole years worth of varied emotions in one sitting.

I would be lying if I said I was completely hooked from page 1. It took a while to get used to the narration style as it seemed rather jarring to me, and in some ways difficult to connect with. However after reading further I got used to it and began to connect with the novel in so many different ways. Soon enough I had fallen in love with the story and it’s characters, leaving me with the certainty of heartbreak when I finished reading. For me, it was ultimately the characters and all their individual quirks and faults which drew me in and kept me reading. Each with their own personal motivations, which were each extremely human, which within the darkness of the overarching plot, gave me something to hang onto.

The writing itself is rather unique, but it is definitely worth persevering with if you are initially put off by the novel’s unusual style. Overall this is a rich and beautifully told story. It left me in a whirlwind of emotions, some of which I didn’t know I could feel. I am so glad that I have read this, it really was a beautiful read!