Book Review- The Book Thief (by Markus Zusak)

NOTE: There are a few small spoilers, but they aren’t even that important to the plot of the book…basically: it won’t ruin anything.

I read this book because it was assigned reading for Language Arts. It turned out being more than I could ever ask for in a book. To be completely honest, every word was intriguing. I found that I genuinely enjoy books with a lot of symbolism, metaphors, and character growth. I also found that I really enjoy reading books that take place during an engaging time period so I can see how that influenced the characters’ lives.

This book is about a young girl’s time in WWII. The main character, Liesel Meminger, is forced to leave her family and join a foster family, because of her initial family’s beliefs. Liesel’s world is unpredictable and is constantly impacted by the raging war around her: WWII. Even in the beginning, Liesel’s life was scary. She watched her brother die right before her eyes and she had to change families.

Liesel grows as a character and develops into an avid reader. Liesel instantly connects with her foster father, Hans. Hans is also the one who taught Liesel to read. Reading is super important in Liesel’s world because words forever change her interpretation of the events going on around her. As she learns to read, she is able to connect Hitler to the loss of her blood family and the fact that Jewish people have to hide. She starts stealing books from various places, including a book from a book burning in her town and a few books from the Mayor’s wife.

When Liesel’s parents talk to her about the fact that there is a Jewish person hiding in her basement, she eventually learns to understand the threat, as quickly as any child would take, and learns to keep it a secret. Liesel even refrains from telling her best friend Rudy about the Jewish man, because Hans told her that the Nazis would kill them if they ever found out.

At first, Liesel was scared of the Jewish man hiding in her basement, but then a bond was formed and there was no going back. Max, the Jewish man, had been through a lot and Liesel was able to connect their similar, (but definitely not the same,) experiences. Both of them had gone through traumatizing, life changing events, so naturally, both of them had terrible nightmares. This was one of the many reasons Max and Liesel bonded so quickly.

When the sirens ring out at any given time of the day, everyone on Himmel Street, (the street where Liesel lives,) knows they must go to the nearest bomb shelter. What would happen if bombs ever fell on Himmel Street? What would happen if nobody heard the sirens? What would happen if the sirens never came?

Hans, Liesel’s father, is a kind, loving, loveable, smart man. He is a character that many readers instantly feel connected to, because of his empathetic, gracious personality and silver eyes that would warm anyone’s heart. I would love to meet Hans because his love for Liesel makes me feel so happy. I know that sounds corny, but I really mean it. If I met him, I would love for him to tell me all about his experiences during the time he served in WWI & WWII.

The fact that this book is told from Death’s point of view, who utilizes Liesel’s diary, makes this book all the more interesting. In this book, Death personifies himself and it makes this book soo much fun to read. I would recommend this book to everyone who enjoys reading and switching up perspectives from the norm and who enjoys history. I would recommend this book because I really enjoyed reading it overall and the flow of the words was amazingggg!

I feel like anyone could relate this book to any book about WWII. I read a book called Maus, and it was about a Jewish family hiding from the Nazis. This book is similar, but also very different because Liesel is not Jewish and she isn’t hiding from the Nazis, instead, she is hiding someone from the Nazis. Another book that is kind of similar to this book is The Diary of Anne Frank. Admittedly, I have never read this book, but I know enough about the concept to compare her with Liesel because they both wrote about their time in WWII. I’m also pretty sure that Liesel and Anne are both young girls. Liesel and Anne are different in many ways because Anne is Jewish while Liesel is a German Christian.

I think the theme of this story is a young girl’s time in WWII. I think the author is trying to show us a glimpse of the war from Death’s point of view. Liesel has a love-hate relationship with words, and words change her view of others around her. Liesel hates words because they have so much power over people, e.g., Hitler feeding lies and anger to people. Liesel loves words because they are beautiful and can describe people, things, and stories. I think the author wants us to see how important words are in the scheme of everything.

Questions Answered:

  • 1. Why did you choose this book?
  • 2. Explain the plot of the book, or if it is a non-fiction book, what topics are covered.
  • 3. Describe one of the characters in the book. Would you want to meet this character? Why or why not?
  • 4. What is your opinion of the book? Would you recommend it? Why or why not?
  • 5. Explain how this book is similar to another book, film, story, or article that you have read or seen. What connections or comparisons can you make?
  • 6. What do you think the main idea or theme of this story is? What is the author trying to tell you about life or our world with this book? 


Thanks for reading! :) Please check out some of my other posts to get good reading suggestions. Remember that (generally) every book mentioned, even if it’s not starred, is recommended. Feel free to comment below!


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