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The book thief
2006
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Fiction/Biography Profile
Characters
Liesel Meminger (Female), Orphan, Her father was arrested for being a communist; mother disappeared; living with a foster family; has nightmares about her younger brother's death; family is hiding a Jewish fugitive; steals books; foster father taught her how to read
Genre
Historical
Young adult fiction
Psychological
Sociological
Topics
World War II
Death and dying
Orphans
Working classes
Friendship
Foster children
Fugitives
Theft
Thieves
Books and reading
Crime
Setting
Molching, Germany - Europe
Germany - Europe
Time Period
1930s-1940s -- World War II
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Trade Reviews

  Publishers Weekly Review

This hefty volume is an achievement-a challenging book in both length and subject, and best suited to sophisticated older readers. The narrator is Death himself, a companionable if sarcastic fellow, who travels the globe "handing souls to the conveyor belt of eternity." Death keeps plenty busy during the course of this WWII tale, even though Zusak (I Am the Messenger) works in miniature, focusing on the lives of ordinary Germans in a small town outside Munich. Liesel Meminger, the book thief, is nine when she pockets The Gravedigger's Handbook, found in a snowy cemetery after her little brother's funeral. Liesel's father-a "Kommunist"-is already missing when her mother hands her into the care of the Hubermanns. Rosa Hubermann has a sharp tongue, but Hans has eyes "made of kindness." He helps Liesel overcome her nightmares by teaching her to read late at night. Hans is haunted himself, by the Jewish soldier who saved his life during WWI. His promise to repay that debt comes due when the man's son, Max, shows up on his doorstep. This "small story," as Death calls it, threads together gem-like scenes of the fates of families in this tight community, and is punctuated by Max's affecting, primitive artwork rendered on painted-over pages from Mein Kampf. Death also directly addresses readers in frequent asides; Zusak's playfulness with language leavens the horror and makes the theme even more resonant-words can save your life. As a storyteller, Death has a bad habit of forecasting ("I'm spoiling the ending," he admits halfway through his tale). It's a measure of how successfully Zusak has humanized these characters that even though we know they are doomed, it's no less devastating when Death finally reaches them. Ages 12-up. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Summary
The extraordinary #1  New York Times  bestseller that is now a major motion picture, Markus Zusak's unforgettable story is about the ability of books to feed the soul.<br> <br> It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.<br> <br> Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who 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.<br> <br> In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger, has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.
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