I have no idea what to say. This is not a happy book. This is not an easy book. This is a book you should read. Here is my (attempt at a) review of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.
With a setting of Nazi Germany it doesn’t take much to guess that this is a book that isn’t going to end with ‘and they all lived happily ever after’. So you’re already starting off with a difficult topic. On top of that the whole story is told from the perspective of Death. The style of the story is a little detached and chooses unusual words and phrases. It’s absolutely appropriate when Death is your narrator, but it does make the story harder to read.
This all just adds to the whole theme of the importance of words. From a girl who struggles learning to read, to how Hitler gained power using them, it’s amazing how wonderful and terrible words can be. On page 528 Liesel herself says “I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.”
This is a sad, stirring and powerful story. The symbolism got to a little much (I could see it being useful for book clubs but keeps me from giving it the perfect five stars). What really got to me was the simple parts of the story. People doing the best they could with what they thought was right and the reality of their situation. I give it four out of five stars.