The Book Thief

Author: Markus Zusak

Publisher: New York: Knopf 2006
pages: 560

Classification: Young Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical fiction
Topics: holocaust, coming of age
Media Type: Book

Grade level: 10-Adult

Reader's annotation: As Liesel, her family, friends and Death live through World War II they find distractions in the stories that Liesel reads from the books she has stolen.

Summary: Narrated by Death, this is the story of a foster girl and her anti-Nazi family living in a small town in Germany as Hitler gains control and war erupts in Europe. Liesel’s first stolen book happens almost by accident after the funeral of her little brother. Although her foster parents are disappointed when her mother arrives with only one child, a girl not a boy as promised, they take her in and grow to love her. Struggling to make ends meet doing whatever they can, life in the working class neighborhood is hard-bitten and caustic. The opportunities for more stolen books keep presenting themselves to Liesel and her collection grows. She makes life bearable for herself and those around her including Max, the Jew they are hiding, with the diversion of the books and their stories. There are many “asides” from Death, some that clarify things and others that confuse, which may make it difficult for less strong readers to follow. is heart-wrenching and spell-binding.

This book can be very intense, with the backdrop of the Nazi’s growing control and WWII. The poetic style of Death’s narration is beautiful and thought provoking. Definitely a must-read and make sure you have your box of tissues.

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I grew up outside of Boston, went to college in western MA and lived in NYC dancing for several years before getting my teaching credentials and unintentionally moving to Santa Cruz CA. Married and divorced with two kids almost grown, a daughter in college and a son in high school, I am thrilled to be a librarian now, something that I should have done years ago. I love the applications of technology and realize that I have been interested in that since my first computer class back in 1986 - a new requirement for teaching degrees. Finally I can combine my love of curriculum, educational resources, working with adults and children, and technology applications.