I absolutely adore reading - my love for books has had a huge impact on my life! I'm going to grad school to be a children's/YA librarian.
It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.
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. (source)
It's reviews for books like this one that are the hardest to write, in my opinion.
I feel very strongly that a good review should praise a book for its strengths and critique it for its flaws. But when I love a book as much as I loved this one, it's hard for me to think of any flaws. This book ensnared me from the very beginning. It's subtle, but the story is so poignant. It's absolutely devastating, but still absolutely hysterical at some points. And, one of the most telling signs of its greatness, it made me cry - which is a very difficult thing for books to achieve.
I thought it was very clever for Zusak to choose Death as his narrator. What better figure to tell the story of one of the most devastating wars in history? And be warned - pretty much everyone dies. When reading this, if you find yourself falling in love with a character - and believe me, you will - there is like a 98% chance that they will die. So I suppose if this book has flaws, that would be one of them. But truthfully, even that can't be. This book is about WWII Germany - if everyone lived happily ever after, it wouldn't be very true to reality, would it? But even though your favorite characters will probably die, you'll absolutely love getting to know them, and it's totally worth all the tissues you'll use in the course of reading this book.
Also, the language - oh my goodness. I wish I were capable of writing a book as perfectly and delectably worded as this one. The descriptions were fantastic - not overly flowery or ornate, but using simple language that one wouldn't really associate with what would be described, but would still somehow allow me to picture things exactly as Zusak intended. This is probably one of the most well-written young adult novels I've read in a LONG time - so much so that, to be honest, I hesitate to label it as young adult, especially since I know that in other countries it's not considered to be one.
I think that's all I can bring myself to say about The Book Thief. It's impossible for me to write a review that will do this justice. So I'll leave you with this: Read this book. It's magnificent and it deserves to be read and loved and experienced and cried about. You will not regret it.