Knopf Books for Young Readers
2007 Michael L Printz Honor Book
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.
I bounced off this book in the past, and for about the first third of it I was torn about “having” to read it. That’s kind of a long time to stick with a book, but at some point, I was hooked and couldn’t put it down.
I have gotten in a bit of a rut over the years of reading books that are only in certain genres with characters that all had a sameness to them. The books honored by the Printz award are very diverse, with lots of unique perspectives. “The Book Thief” is definitely different — narrated by Death, about a young girl during World War II and the life she leads with her neighbors and foster family, and the Jewish man her family hides for a time.
This is not a quick read with a lot of fast action. It’s unique style does take some getting used to, and some people will probably decide it’s not for them. I loved seeing how books and words left their mark on Liesel and her family, friends, and neighbors. I cared a lot about what happened to everyone, and even though it’s been several weeks since I finished, I still find myself thinking about it occasionally.