Posted by: Lizzie Ross | April 4, 2010

This’ll sneak up on you

The Book Thief, Markus Zusak (2005), Bodley Head, 584 pp.

How often do you find historical fiction narrated by Death? You have to wonder which side he’s rooting for.

We’re in Germany, Hitler’s in power, and books are at risk. For Liesel, the heroine, the forbidden becomes irresistible, and she becomes a biblioklept. Her family isn’t Jewish, but the man hiding in their basement puts them in danger all the same.

This is a subtle book. It’s about the power of reading and the power of trust; it’s about childhood’s terrors; it’s about how war tilts our expectations, so that we accept and do almost anything unless we’re very careful. When brutality becomes normal, we have to be very very careful.

And I think it’s a bit about Death falling in love with this girl. I’ll have to keep this in mind when I read it again.



  1. So many great books. How can one read them all?

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