The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Reviewed by Heather

4/5

This book was one of the most difficult ones I've read in recent years, quite possibly ever. At times I found myself forgetting that this was YA and then finding myself shocked that it WAS YA. How would a 14 year old take this? How could a 14 year old be expected to understand the pain and the suffering and the heartache that Liesel had experienced? But then I thought even more...how could I, at 39 years old, even begin to comprehend it myself? No heartache I have ever gone through in my four decades on the planet could even begin to compare to what a child in Nazi Germany in the 1940s withstood on a daily basis.
The only reason this did not get 5 stars is that I had difficulty concentrating on the flowery writing style at times. I am a very straightforward sort of person, so I had to make a lot of assumption based on context clues. Often I was not sure if the assumption I was making was correct and I was wishing for a "Cliff Notes" of sorts to carry me through. For the most part, however, this book kept me riveted, anxious to discover how it ended. The fact that the narrator basically told the reader how it ended in many places during the novel surprisingly did not dampen the desire to continue reading. It was a very unique storytelling angle that worked marvelously in this particular novel.
Despite knowledge of their fate (or maybe because of it) I've never felt so connected to an entire cast of characters. Liesel with her spunk, Hans with his loving nature, Rosa with her loud mouth but equally massive heart. These people took in a girl they never meet and treated her like their own, forging an impenetrable bond, an amazing concept that I truly believed possible. I loved the broken mayor's wife, the pathetic Tommy Mueller, the determined Max and Rudy. Oh God how my heart ached for poor Rudy wanting nothing but a kiss from the girl next door.
This story had everything. It was about history. It was about family. It was about growing up. It was about fear. It was about young love. It was about gratitude. It was about seizing the money. It was about being human. It was just an absolutely an amazing story and you'd be a fool not to read it at least once.

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