The Book Thief is the story of Liesel, a German girl living in Germany during the Second World War. She is taken away from her mother and given to a new set of parents as her mother can't afford to take care of her. Morbidly the story is narrated by Death a character in his own right who is omnipresent in the story.
On the way to her new home Liesel's brother dies and in buried. This is where Liesel steals her first book, The Grave Digger's Handbook. Haunted by nightmares of her brother Liesel and her new father set themselves a challenge to read the book.
The book is completely compelling and differently to most war books you tend to read this one is set in a German town being bombed by English planes. Something you can easily forget was the case when the majority of war narratives I'd come into contact with are very much written from either an English or American perspective. It makes it easy to forget that there were an equal number of struggles that the German people would have felt at the hands of the British bombs and equally at the hands of their own leaders where disagreement wasn't an option.
The use of Death himself as the narrator also makes the book more interesting than the normal story of war time woes. Death is seen as a kinder and gentler than you'd expect with a massive amount of empathy. All of the characters are extremely lovable and enjoyable to read.
Whilst there's a big ending the story has twists and turns along the way to keep up the tension. Liesel eventually after a few difficulties settles into her new school, joins a gang of food thieves, forms a strong friendship with Rudy, is invited into a Nazi household, takes in a Jew into the family home, forms a difficult friendship with him, he becomes very ill, gets better, then leaves.
The book can be depressing as it really does focus on death but it very well written and definitely the best book I've read in a while.
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