I found this a very memorable and clever book. It is the story of Liesel, a German girl living through the Second World War. She has had a difficult start in life as she has been sent away to live with foster parents. Liesel struggles to cope with the awful events happening around her and finds comfort in words and books, and therefore takes the opportunity to steal books she finds.

However, the narrator of the story is Death itself (quite a kindly empathetic character, it seems!), and I found this aspect really interesting and very different and extremely clever.

I felt slightly apprehensive reading the book as I was expecting the author to subject us to horrific details of cruelties, but thankfully he did not – the book was sad but not too upsetting. I prefer this technique of telling a story; personally, I find it is more productive to give a lesson gently and subtly than it is to shock people into learning facts. For example, I found the treatment of the Jews difficult to read, but as it was written in a gentle way and not overdone, rather than with gut-wrenching facts, I therefore read it all and the facts have stayed with me. However, if it had been too gruesome I probably would have skipped over those pages and therefore not actually learnt about the events.

I found it extremely thought-provoking and intriguing to be shown the experiences of war from the German point of view, and found myself, for the first time, contemplating how much the everyday German person suffered and how their lives were disrupted, how they were confused and questioned their leaders’ decisions, particularly regarding the treatment of the Jews, and how they were uncertain of the future and scared. I have only ever been taught about the war from a British point of view and told how the British faced the trauma of bombs falling and towns being destroyed as well as the difficulties of food rationing, and I found it quite eye-opening to hear the German people’s side and to stand in their shoes.

The book also portrays life’s choices, and life-changing decisions, from an ordinary individual’s point of view, particularly the choice of whether or not to help the Jewish people considering the danger that helping them may bring. The book is full of many extremely brave and admirable characters, who often made me question whether I would be as brave in their shoes.

I found this a very powerful and moving book and feel glad that I have read it.

The Book Thief (Paperback)

By (author): Markus Zusak

HERE IS A SMALL FACT - YOU ARE GOING TO DIE...1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier.Liesel, a nine-year-old girl, is living with a foster family on Himmel Street. Her parents have been taken away to a concentration camp. Liesel steals books. This is her story and the story of the inhabitants of her street when the bombs begin to fall.SOME IMPORTANT INFORMATION - THIS NOVEL IS NARRATED BY DEATHIt's a small story, about: a girl, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist fighter and quite a lot of thievery.ANOTHER THING YOU SHOULD KNOW - DEATH WILL VISIT THE BOOK THIEF THREE TIMES...An extraordinary read that everyone should read at least once.This paperback book has 560 pages and measures: 13 x 19.9 x 3.5cm.
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