Two summers ago I had some of the high school girls over to my house. They helped me move books from my mom’s house to my new home. They brought a number of boxes back to my bedroom where I had a built-in bookcase. When I came back to the room, London, Candace and Katrina were each sitting on the bed or on a box of books reading one of my books. London saw The Book Thief which I had recently purchased and asked to borrow it. When she returned it she said what a great book it was and I needed to read it.
I added this New York Times Bestseller to my Summer Reading plan and I agree with London. It is a great book and I can see why it was made into a movie.
The Book Thief is narrated by Death and is about the adventures of Liesel, a young girl, living in Nazi Germany. I wasn’t sure at first about Death being the narrator but as I continued to read it made a lot of sense. Early in the story Leisel loses her family and is put with an older couple. There she learns to read and see the value of words. You see her growth as she reads and as she opens up to her new family, a neighbor boy and a young Jewish man the family is hiding in the basement. While this is happening around her the community is changing and Jews are the target. She becomes the book thief through an unexpected friendship with the mayor’s wife. Books open up new worlds to her.
The book doesn’t skirt around the issues of Nazi Germany and there is sadness but you see the love and humanity in the midst of inhumanity. I thought of The Diary of Anne Frank and imagine schools using these two books together as students study World War II and the effect it had on the Jews and the people of Germany.
Though this is a young adult book (see another young adult review, Mockingjay) a number of adults who have read this urged me to read it. It is a book about a dark subject and narrated by Death but it is about hope, family, and right over wrong. In this present world it is good to be reminded of the important things even when around us we see suffering and death. We need to also remember the evil that humans can do to humans and how we can encourage others in the midst of suffering, remembering the important things. The Book Thief would be a great read-aloud for families with older children and teenagers. It could lead to wonderful family discussions and conversations with family members, church and community members who lived during World War II. Top it all off with viewing the The Book Thief movie. I hope to watch it this week.