The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Summary (From the Publisher):
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. . . .
Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel 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. . .
This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.
The Book Thief is a book told by Death, who narrates the story of Liesel Meminger between the years of 1939 – 1943. The story begins with a death, the death of Liesel’s six year old brother on the train ride to Molching, Germany – or more specifically, a street by the name of Himmel to be handed over to her new foster parents, Rosa and Hans Hubermannn. On the train ride, her brother dies and her life as the book thief accidently begins – one of the grave diggers drops a book – she picks it up and learns to love and hate the power of words.

The war touches Liesel throughout her life on Himmel Street. In the four years, she is given everything, a loving family, friends – and watches it all taken away.

I was at first a bit dubious about  a book with Death as a narrator, but Zusak presents Death not just as a narrator looking from the outside, but Death is also affected by the events that he is narrating, in a way forshadowing the events of this tragic war. I couldn’t put this book down, but it is not a book that I would re-read.  It is powerdul in its telling and like any Holocaust-like book, one rememnbers the story long after.
Reading Ability:  Grade 8 & 9 (Mature teen read)
Genre: War War II, Germany; Holocaust; Books; Historiocal fiction, Germany;
Theme: Courage; Determination;  Growing up
Who would like this book?: Teens interested in life in the perspective of growing up in war-torn Germany, the holocaust; Jewish Persecution.
Teacher on-line resources: http://www.gradesaver.com/the-book-thief/study-guide/
http://www.nlc.state.ne.us/libdev/OBOK/2008/discussionquestionsBookThief.pdf
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