By Marcus Zusak
Set in Germany during World War II, The Book Thief tells the story of a young German girl named Liesel Meminger. As tragedy continuously strikes her young life, she turns to books as an attempt to lesson the blow. But books are few and far between in Nazi Germany, and it is in unlikely places that she finds them. In the snow by her brother's grave, in the midst of a book burning bonfire, and in the library at the Mayor's house. Liesel's story is that of a girl affected by a war which she had no part in, a war which destroyed everything she had.
The Book Thief did not grab me immediately. It is narrated by Death, who tells the story of how he first met Liesel and of her life thereafter. At first I thought the narration made the book choppy, but as I continued reading found that Death's thoughts on the tragedy of World War II truly added a dramatic aspect to the story. It helped to bring the realities of the war to the book, a reality which a book which focuses on a young girl might otherwise forget. It is a very intense read about WWII, but because it presents the war from the point of view of a young German civilian, it reminds us of the toll the war took on the complacent civilian population of Germany. The book is definitely more appropriate for older teens.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Age Level: 10-11th Grade