by Markus Zusak
There are no words in my vocabulary to describe the beauty and power of this book. It is definitely in the top 5 on my list of all-time favorites. By now you have all read reviews and you know the book is about a little German girl who belongs to Hitler's youth group and lives with her foster parents in a small German town. The story is narrated by Death, who interestingly enough, is afraid of humans. The girl, Leisel steals books. Her Papa, a kind, good-hearted man, teaches her to read. Amidst the dismal backdrop of Hitler's Germany, Leisel learns the meanings and the power of words. She learns to love them and she learns to hate them.
The author effectively conveys the meaning and power of words in the arrangement and choice of the words he uses to write the story. Zusak is a master. Let me give you a small sampling. Death is describing a neighbor man by listing the five contradictory politics of Alex Steiner. "Point Five: Somewhere, far down, there was an itch in his heart, but he made it a point not to scratch it. He was afraid of what might come leaking out."
After Leisel stole her first book, Death described her as "the book thief without the words." (because she didn't know how to read yet) Death continues, "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."
The first time Liesels' foster mother made her knock on the door and ask for the laundry from the mayor's wife. Liesel was scared to death. "Liesel's blood had dried inside of her. It crumbled. She almost broke into pieces on the steps."
The whole book is filled with beautiful and unexpected arrangements of words. This alone is not what makes the book so outstanding. The story is compelling. The characters are flawed but important. You love them. You care about them. You worry and cry for them. Even Death.
This is a must read and I don't believe it will let you down like The Thirteenth Tale did. Compared to The Book Thief, TTT was only an interesting story.