The Book Thief: a Critical Review

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“First the colors. Then the humans. That’s usually how I see things. Or at least, how I try.” So begins a carefully spun tale of sadness, loss, death, and how hope and love can rise them. Markus Zusack’s historical fiction novel, The Book Thief, inspires ordinary people to live their best and to discover a thing that you love to get away from the sorrow in life. The Book Thief has been given numerous awards, and for good reason – it’s a memorable tale of hardship and love, and how the good in life can outweigh the bad. And the setting that this story is set in is Germany. Germany, 1939. Handling the Holocaust can be tricky. It is an emotional topic when handled correctly, and when handled incorrectly, a callous story of disregard for human life. Zusack manages to deal with issues like concentration camps, death marches, and bombing in a way that neither glorifies nor ignores the fact that these acts and places were a part at that time.

The Book Thief is the story of Liesel Merminger’s life while living in Nazi Germany with non-Nazi foster parents. She finds a book by her brother’s grave, and takes it to keep as a momento. Soon, Liesel finds many books, from book burnings, the mayor’s house, and as presents. She decides to write her own book about her life. It tells how she came to her foster parents, her life on Himmel Street, and how her life changes when her family takes in a Jew.

Zusack’s purpose in writing The Book Thief is to inspire people to rise above their circumstance and find something they love. Liesel, the protagonist, through her discovery that she love books, which allows her to escape from the sadness of her world, and Death, the narrator, through his finding of a meaningful life that tells a story that shows him that humans are worth it – Liesel’s story – exemplify and fulfill this purpose. Through this, The Book Thief provokes thoughts and questions like if other people could shelter a Jew, or write a book loved by Death. In inspiring people...
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