The Book Thief – Markus Zusak (2005)

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The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is an unusual type of novel. It is a historical fiction, it is ever so slightly supernatural (by way of the narrator), it is about young teens/children, it has been classified as a Young Adult novel in some cases. Zusak’s book was the first chosen for our book club, because it had received raves, it was a NYT #1 bestseller, and enough people in my group had heard of it by way of the movie. (I have yet to watch the movie, but I understand they diverge, as is often the case) The story centres on a girl named Leisel Meminger, during WWII. She is sent to live with foster parents, and is the Book Thief for whom the novel is titled. As is common in books dealing with global issues from the point of view of a child, there is a fair amount that is left to the reader to determine. Luckily, the omniscient narrator fills in some of the blanks. Full of a dazzling cast of characters, the reader is immersed into WWII Germany, so long as they suspend their disbelief and allow the strange beauty to take hold. The strangeness of the novel is found in the souls that are suffering, the fear, the hunger, the desperation that engulfs them. In our group, a few members had trouble getting past the supernatural, but I feel strongly that if you push through the more difficult opening sequences, you will be fully rewarded with a very unique reading experience.
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