Book review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

the book thief

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Published by: Knopf Books
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought, Buy on Waterstones, Book Depository
Goodreads rating: 3.74

Synopsis: It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery.

Earlier this year marked the 10th year anniversary of this beautiful book being released into this world.

A story about Nazi Germany, narrated by death should feel weird at best, but Markus Zusak creates a poetic world with imagery you can smell and taste through his words. I was surprised by the way Death told this story, through dark humour and sarcasm, the perspective was unique and heartbreaking. The narrative by Death is gentle and Death divulges that he fears humans as he talks about them in their final moments. And before he takes her life, he talks about how worthwhile and kind Liesel is.

In stark contrast to the narrator, this book is about humanity and it’s complexity, something even Death is confounded by. Our fierce protagonist Liesel, proves her resilience despite the many hardships she faces, from the death of her brother, to being given up for fostering by her mother who couldn’t provide for her children anymore in the climate they were in. Liesel develops a beautiful relationship with her foster parents and as Hitler strikes again and again stealing words, Liesel, The Book Thief, steals them back one book at a time.

Writing and narrative
I have never read a story that makes me pause and repeat whole paragraphs and sentence again and again because each sentence is so beautiful it deserves to be said over and over again. The wordsmanship, the description – it felt like I could taste moments and hear feelings and see smells – it was all a beautiful journey, combed together by words crafted and chosen so carefully. Tell me, who writes like this:

‘She was the book thief without the words. Trust me, though, the words were on their way, and when they arrived, Liesel would hold them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out like the rain.’

Personally, somehow I end up reading this book at least once a year because it is beautiful and the language is poetic and rich and I’m selfish to want to read these words over and over and admit them to memory and maybe one day be a fraction of the writer Markus Zusak is. Please read this book, even if it is the only book you will read this year.