Here is a small fact: You are going to die.
These are the lines on the first page of The Book Thief; a novel by Markus Zusak set in the time of Nazi Germany. The novel is narrated from Death’s point of view. Yes, you read it right. Death tells us the story of the Book Thief. The book begins with Death introducing himself to us, following which, he introduces us to The Book Thief — Liesel Meminger.
9-year-old Liesel is given away to a foster family by her mother who can no longer care for her. On the way to the foster family, Death visits them and takes away Liesel’s brother. And it’s at her brother’s funeral that the Book Thief steals her first book. Just as a reminder of her brother. Because, you see, Liesel Meminger cannot read.
Liesel is taken into care by the Hubermanns: Hans and Rosa. Hans is a loving and caring foster-father while Rosa shows her love in her own unique way — by referring to Liesel and Hans as pigs. Death takes us through Liesel’s childhood — adjusting to the death of her brother, to the fact that her mother abandoned her, to a new family, a new life.
Liesel befriends Rudy who is the boy next door and goes to the same school. Liesel is also put in a class well below her age due to her inability to read. And it is her foster-father who assists her. He spends nights with Liesel teaching her to read the book she stole at her brother’s funeral. And slowly, Liesel loves reading. However, the Hubermanns are not exactly the richest people on the planet and Liesel decides to continue getting hold of books through the only way she knows — stealing.
Liesel’s life is intertwined with what is then happening in Germany under the rule of Hitler. Jews are being tortured. Young men are being sent to war. Innocent people are dying. And Liesel…well, she has no idea why she has to “Heil Hitler” but does so anyway because if not, she and her family will have to face the consequences. Liesel’s life is in for a twist when Hans and Rosa decide to shelter a Jewish man in their basement. Liesel makes a new friend and spends time reading to him and describing the world to him.
The book is a wonderful tale of a young girl who goes through hell but is resilient and cheerful and strives for her goals. A young girl who will do anything to attain her passion for reading. A young girl with a pure heart who cannot understand what is so bad about Jews. It is a sad book and brought tears to my eyes in the end. It is also a quirky book…after all, how many books do you know narrated by Death himself?? I would highly recommend this book if you like something meaningful that will bring tears to your eyes as well as a smile on your face.
And another thing you should know:
Death will visit the Book Thief three times