Review Detail

4.7 32
Young Adult Fiction 4504
Award-winning and deservedly so
Overall rating
Writing Style
Reader reviewed by Julie @ Knitting and Sundries

Not-So-Bebe-Girl Autumn read this one first.  Within the first few
pages, she was inspired to write a poem.  If you'd like, you can read it here.

I've seen a lot of comments on my posts while I was in the process of
reading this that say, "I've had this on my shelves; I'm just not sure
about reading it ... look at the subject matter."

I say, "Read it; you won't regret it."  If you look at all of those awards it's won, you'd be astounded.?  There's a really good reason for them; this book is fantastic.

My problem comes when I think, "How do I review a book that has been reviewed in so many ways by so many different people?"

We have a bittersweet story about a German girl named Liesel.  The story
is narrated by Death, which seems macabre, but isn't.  Actually, I felt
a kind of sympathy for him; he's just doing his job (after all, who
else is going to do it?), and he takes special care with young ones and
ones that he feels shouldn't be on their way with him.

Death tells Liesel's story .. of being put in the care of foster parents
by her sad and tired mother ... of the death of Liesel's little brother
on the way (this is not a spoiler, as this is how the book starts, and
the first time Death meets Liesel, who, for some reason, piques his
curiosity-we see how he keeps tabs on her throughout the years).  Her
first theft of a book is at her brother's graveside.

We have a girl who didn't know how to read being taught by her kind,
accordion-playing foster father Hans.  Her foster mother Rosa is gruff
and calls both Liesel and her husband names, but that is her way of
loving them.  There is the next-door neighbor, Frau Holtzapfel, who
shows her disdain for Rosa by spitting on her door every time she
passes.  And Rudy Steiner, obsessed with Jesse Owens, who becomes
Liesel's best friend.  We meet Hans, Jr., full-fledged Nazi, whose party
loyalty causes a split with his father, who lost work because he didn't
join the Nazi party.  We see that even Death was moved by the slaughter
of the Jews in Nazi Germany, and we see Liesel passing the time in the
bomb shelters reading to her neighbors.

Artfully written, with sidenotes by Death like this:

Point One:  He was a member of the Nazi Party, but he did not
hate the Jews, or anyone else for that matter.
Point Two:  Secretly, though, he couldn't help feeling a 
percentage of relief (or worse-gladness!) when
Jewish shop owners were put out of business - 
propaganda informed him that it was only a matter of
time before a plague of Jewish tailors showed up 
and stole his customers.
Point Three:  But did that mean they should be driven
out completely?
Point Four:  His family.  Surely, he had to do whatever he 
could to support them.  If that meant being in the party,
it meant being in the party.
Point Five:  Somewhere, far down, there was an itch in his
heart, but he made it a point not to scratch it.  He was afraid of
what might come leaking out.

this is the story of a little girl, her family, and her friends, trying
to make it through the reign of Hitler with the least damage possible. 
Hiding the son of the man who saved Hans' life in the Great War in their
basement.  Seeing Jews marched through their streets and not being able
to do anything to help them.  Being punished with whippings by soldiers
when they even tossed a crust of bread to the hungry Jews.  Living on
rations and loss, and trying to keep a positive head when things around
them are no longer making sense.  Losing a father to the war when they
are unwilling to give a son to the Party.  It is both sad and
enlightening; happy and heartbreaking; illustrating triumph over the
worst adversity.  It's a book that will stay with you.  If you have it
on your shelves, read it.  If you don't, you need to buy, beg or borrow


You could argue that Liesel Meminger had it easy.  She did have it easy compared to Max Vandenburg.  Certainly, her brother practically died in her arms.  Her mother abandoned her.

But anything was better than being a Jew.

He'd have cried and turned and smiled if only he could have seen the
book thief on her hands and knees, next to his decimated body.  He'd
have been glad to witness her kissing his dusty, bomb-hit lips.

Her wrinkles were like slander.  Her voice was akin to a beating with a stick.
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