It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will be busier still.
By her brother’s graveside, Liesel Meminger’s life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger’s Handbook, left behind there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordian-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever there are books to be found.
But these are dangerous times. When Liesel’s foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel’s world is both opened up, and closed down.
In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.
This book kind of broke my heart a little. I liked the idea of death as a narrator. I’ve noticed people complaining about that aspect of the book and saying how cliche it is. Personally, I can’t ever recall reading a book with death as the narrator, so I cannot agree with that sentiment. I liked that death wasn’t very typical either. Instead a cynical and hardened being, death was presented as an exhausted and weary soul who is utterly fascinated, yet confounded by the human condition.
Eleven year old Liesal Meminger is pretty much taken from everything and everyone she’s ever known and placed with the Hubermanns. Here she quickly bonds with her new foster father Hans and he teaches her to read. In the ensuing years, Liesal develops relationships with her new family, neighbors, and develops a special bond with young Max Vandenburg. A Jewish man her family is hiding with ties to her father Han’s past.
Liesal begins a love affair with books and words and uses them to both hurt others and breathe life into them. I thought it was a great coming of age story of a sweet and clever girl trying to navigate her way in her new world. She experiences incredible tragedy, and incredible loss, yet she perseveres. She loves, and she loves hard. Her spirit and fight are admirable. I especially loved her bond with best friend Rudy, and Jewish hideout Max. But the most special relationship was that between her and her father Hans, and her relationship with words.
It was a sweet, sad, yet uplifting story of love and survival.
Filed in: Reviews, Young Adult Tags: Review, Young Adult