Book Review: The Book Thief

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The book was an instant favorite and the beautiful and thought provoking musings of death made me fall in love with the book.

The Book Thief tells the story of Liesel, narrated by Death. Liesel is an orphan. She never knew her father and her mother disappears after delivering her to her new foster parents. Her younger brother died on the train to Molching where the foster parents lived.

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Her foster parents, Hans and Rosa Herbermann, are poor Germans given a small allowance to take her in. Hans is a tall, quiet man with silver eyes. He is a painter (of houses etc.) and plays the accordian. He teaches Liesel how to read and write. Rosa is brusque and swears a lot but has a big heart. She does laundry for rich people in the town. Liesel also befriends her neighbour Rudy, a boy with “hair the colour of lemons” and who idolises the black Olympic champion sprinter Jesse Owens.

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Even though Rosa is gruff, foul mouthed and strict, when Liesel’s adopted father is shipped off to war, Liesel creeps through the house to see Rosa sleeping with her husband’s accordian strapped around her waist.

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The first thought that entered my mind when I saw the book was that it was going to be depressing. But for a book about the Holocaust, it is extraordinarily well written and not as depressing as you would think. There are many things that save the book from being all out depressing. Liesel’s description of the weather, death’s musings about humans and the innocent conversations between Liesel and Rudy make it an interesting read.

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This book shows us the Holocaust from the perspective of a girl, which is a fresh approach to a story of that time period. There isn’t always death and suffering, sometimes there is happiness and love between Liesel and her foster parents, Rudy and the Jewish boxer.

It is a beautifully written book and I can’t recommend it more.

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