THE BOOK THIEF is on of the most memorable books I've read in a long time. It takes place during World War II in Molching, Germany. It's the writing, the unusual narrator (death), and the characters sketched in vivid colors that make this novel so difficult to put down.
Meet Leisel, the book thief, whose first encounter with death occurs on a train with her mama and brother - on their way to meet her foster parents.
Meet Rosa Hubermann, Leisel's new mama, whose rough, crude exterior can't hide the heart inside.
Meet Hans Hubermann, Leisel's firm foundation. The man who stays up with her after her nightmares, who teaches her to read her first stolen book, who finds empathy in a slice of stale bread.
Meet Max, a Jew, the shadow in the basement, a skeleton later seen marching, or more aptly, stumbling, down the road.
Meet Rudy, the lemon-haired Jesse Owens, Leisel's partner in crime and best friend, the one who yearns for Leisel's kiss.
Meet the Führer, the invisible, potent master of words.
Meet death, in a metal cockpit, on a snow-covered field mottled in red, hanging from a rafter at the end of a rope, sitting at a simple kitchen table, under a pile of rubble that used to be a home.
Markus Zusak fills the reader with vivid images of humans at war, humans led to the unthinkable by a force they cannot control. Some go willingly, others have no choice. Those left behind are merely attempting to survive each day as life crumbles around them. Leisel survives by stealing books.
As I read the final chapters of THE BOOK THIEF, I literally had to close the book to get my emotions under control before reading on to meet death. It was inevitable -- he would meet me at the end of the book. As I emerged from the story at the turning of the back cover, my reality felt so jarringly wrong. It was as though I went from a black and white silent movie to a new world: bright, free, and colorful. You cannot read this novel without feeling a resounding resolve that this should never, ever, happen again.
The writing is incredible. Mr. Zusak gave death such an unusual perspective. His descriptive phrases are nothing short of brilliant. THE BOOK THIEF is a powerful read that should not be missed by anyone, teen or adult!
Reviewed by: Cana Rensberger