Between the Lines

Everyone can read, but really understanding a book and the story it represents is entirely different. It's important to adopt different perspectives. Here, I offer you mine.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Since this is my first review, I thought I'd start with a book that I've read a thousand times.

The Book Thief
Markus Zusak
576 Pages

Summary: ’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.”

Positive: 1. Technique. It really can’t get much worse than World War II. Hate, destruction, pain, fear… It’s a true art to take something so horrible and mold it into something beautiful. As bombs drop, innocent people suffer, and the world seems to come apart, Markus Zusak brings out a touching story that managed to capture the true horrors of World War II while maintaining the innocence of a teenage girl. It expresses the horrible things that happened to German citizens as well as the Jewish victims. 2. Narrator. At first, the involvement of Death with Leisel Meminger’s story seemed irrelevant. However, it eventually became essential to the story’s overall meaning as Death’s compassion for the humans that haunted him was brought forth. 3. Characters. Each character in the story had his or her own quirky personality, which only made the reader care for each individual even more.

Negative: 1. Length. “The Book Thief” is a pretty long read. It takes time and dedication to get through it, but it’s definitely worth every minute. 2. Getting used to the new writing style. Throughout the first few pages the first time I read the book, I was extremely confused. I had no idea who was narrating the story, and I wasn’t used to the format of writing the author was using. When I figured out that the narrator was Death and that he often paused to make announcements, I got into the rhythm of the book and began to understand it much better. In the end, the new writing style seemed refreshing and unique.

Overall: I have read this book countless times. Each time I reread it, I gain an even better understanding. There are so many meanings and symbols hidden in the pages that it just seems to get better every time I pick it up again. I love how the author brings readers to care for each character, provoking fierce emotions when something drastic happens to them. This book is extremely thought provoking; I often paused to contemplate the comforts of life that I now enjoy and how grateful I am to not live in a war-torn country.

Rating: Two Thumbs Up!!


  1. Great review, Becca! Welcome to the blogosphere!!!

  2. Great review! I really want to read The Book Thief!

  3. Oh, look at you, all shiny and new - have fun with it! Great review! :)