Michelle’s Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak


From the Stash is my way to denote when something is from before Playing Jokers was established. I have been reviewing books since January 2010 so I’d like to showcase some of that past work, as well as safeguard my reviews for posterity.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusakbook thief

Published: December 18th 2007 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Format/Source: Purchased Kindle eBook
Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction
Originally Reviewed: June 2011


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.



I don’t remember the last time I very nearly hysterically cried over a book. Perhaps it was when Sirius Black was killed in Harry Potter. But this was a different sort of sad. Call me melodramatic, but it made me despair over the actions of humans against one another. I was just lucky that no one was awake to witness me blubber.

Narrated by Death, the book takes place in Nazi Germany (a good clue that this is not a cheerful story). Liesel is a girl who is placed into foster care when her mother cannot properly take care of her. On her way to her foster family, her little brother passes away. This leaves a lasting mark on the psyche of the young girl. The story traces her development into her young teen years, as the situation in Germany changes. As a hint, they live right down the road from Dachau.

Stylistically, the story was very interesting. In the beginning, I was a bit confused on who that narrator was and the format. Death is someone who has seen so much and knows the full story, and doesn’t necessarily care to tell to the story in order. He also places big bold inserts into the text, with lists or specific observations, calling special attention to certain elements. These allow breaks within the overall moving and depressing story. Somehow, this book has been labeled for young readers. I would say that this book is only appropriate for teenagers and up.

Very artfully crafted, I enjoyed the story. There were lots of food for thought in the story. After all, Death has witnessed so much.


What do you think?

  • Great review Michelle! I LOVED this book and thought it was brilliant, one of my favourites. The writing style was just so poetic and the story so compelling.

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