When a twelve-year-old girl came up to me crying and asking me if I wanted to borrow this book, I couldn't refuse. She had just finished the story and was so struck by it that she wanted to pass it on for someone else to read. I was hesitant when left alone with the book, as it wasn't really my genre, but as I progressed into it I was amazed by how heartbreakingly beautiful it was.
The Book Thief tells the story of Liesel Meminger, a girl who is raised in Germany during World War II. Her life is torn apart when her mother sends her to a foster home and then loses contact with her. When she first arrives at her new home on Himmel Street, she is haunted by the death of her six year old brother and struggles with her new surroundings and new family.
Liesel finds herself attracted to books, even though she cannot read, which she "steals" through various conventional and unconventional means. Though books are a continuing theme, this story is more about her realtionships with the people that come into and out of her life.
This book is written in a unique and innovative format. Certain points are differently presented to make them more poignant or draw attention to their importance. In some cases, we get to see the drawings and paintings by the people in Liesel's life.
The whole story is narrated by Death, but not in a tacky way. It seems to present Death as a hopeful yet sad onlooker as he gently carries the souls of the lost away in his arms while keeping an eye on the life of The Book Thief.
The history in this play is mostly accurate to the best of my knowledge. It is a realistic presentation of Germany during the war and of the lives of the people impacted by it. The story is rich and well-told, the ending is devastating and brilliant, and the book is gripping, particularly towards the latter half.
This book is a bestseller, currently ranking at the top of Amazon's children's book list, though this is not a book that I would plass in that category. It is probably one of, if not the best book I have read this year, and I was almost sad to pass it back to the twelve-year-old girl who owned it.
4.8 out of 5. Highly recommended.