- Publisher: Random House Inc
- Format: Hardback | 552 pages
- Dimensions: 144mm x 208mm x 42mm | 680g
- Publication date: 14 March 2006
- Publication City/Country: New York
- ISBN 10: 0375831002
- ISBN 13: 9780375831003
- Sales rank: 3,264
The extraordinary #1 "New York Times" bestseller that is now a major motion picture, Markus Zusak's unforgettable story is about the ability of books to feed the soul. It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still. Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can't resist-books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement. In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of "I Am the Messenger, " has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.
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Markus Zusak is the author of I Am the Messenger, a Printz Honor Book and "Los Angeles Times" Book Award Finalist, and the international bestseller, "The Book Thief, " which has been translated into over thirty languages and has sold nine million copies around the world. He is the recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for significant and lasting contribution to writing for teens and lives in Sydney, Australia, with his wife and children.
By Marianne Vincent 12 Jan 2014
The Book Thief is the fifth novel by Australian author, Markus Zusak. The setting is Nazi Germany just before the start of World War Two, through to 1943, and the story is narrated by Death. Death was decidedly overworked during the war, but he informs the reader that he saw young Liesel Meminger three times in those years before he finally took her much later. Liesel comes to 33 Himmel Strasse in Molchen to foster parents Rosa and Hans Hubermann, having just lost her younger brother, Werner to Death's grasp. Cranky Rosa keeps the family fed with her washing and ironing service while kind Hans paints when it is needed, plays the accordion and teaches Liesel to read, all on the background of deprivation, anxiety and fear that is wartime Germany. The anxiety level rises when Max Vandenburg, a Jew, comes to hide in the basement. But the presence of this unassuming man also helps to expand Liesel's experience of reading and of life. With her best friend, Rudy Steiner, Liesel embarks on a career of thievery, starting with apples but graduating, eventually, to books from the Mayor's library, although her first books are acquired in quite a different manner. This much-awarded, best-selling novel looks at war from a different perspective: the effects it has on ordinary people trying to lead ordinary lives in an ordinary town. While the Fuhrer and Mein Kampf play integral parts, illustrating the use of words for evil, the emphasis is on the struggle of the common man (and woman) to do the right thing in a dangerous environment. Zusak's characters have depth and appeal (even cranky Rosa): the banter between them often lifts the tension from serious moments with some quite black humour. Zusak is skilful with his imagery and wordplay: "He was teenage tall and had a long neck. Pimples gathered in peer groups on his face." and "She imagined the sound of a police siren throwing itself forward and reeling itself in. Collecting itself." are just two examples. The illustrations by Trudy White are a charming enhancement to the text. This novel has brutality, but it also has beauty. The narration style may take a little getting used to, but the reader who perseveres is rewarded with a wonderful experience. Very moving.
"Brilliant and hugely ambitious...Some will argue that a book so difficult and sad may not be appropriate for teenage readers...Adults will probably like it (this one did), but it's a great young-adult novel...It's the kind of book that can be life-changing, because without ever denying the essential amorality and randomness of the natural order, "The Book Thief" offers us a believable hard-won hope...The hope we see in Liesel is unassailable, the kind you can hang on to in the midst of poverty and war and violence. Young readers need such alternatives to ideological rigidity, and such explorations of how stories matter. And so, come to think of it, do adults." -"New York Times, "May 14, 2006 ""The Book Thief" is unsettling and unsentimental, yet ultimately poetic. Its grimness and tragedy run through the reader's mind like a black-and-white movie, bereft of the colors of life. Zusak may not have lived under Nazi domination, but "The Book Thief" deserves a place on the same shelf with "The Diary of a Young Girl" by Anne Frank and Elie Wiesel's "Night." It seems poised to become a classic." - "USA Today" "Zusak doesn't sugarcoat anything, but he makes his ostensibly gloomy subject bearable the same way Kurt Vonnegut did in "Slaughterhouse-Five" with grim, darkly consoling humor." - "Time Magazine" "Elegant, philosophical and moving...Beautiful and important." - "Kirkus Reviews," Starred "This hefty volume is an achievement...a challenging book in both length and subject..." - "Publisher's Weekly," Starred "One of the most highly anticipated young-adult books in years." - "The Wall Street Journal" "Exquisitely written and memorably populated, Zusak's poignant tribute to words, survival, and their curiously inevitable entwinement is a tour de force to be not just read but inhabited." - "The Horn Book Magazine," Starred "An extraordinary narrative." - "School Library Journal," Starred ""The Book Thief" will be appreciated for Mr. Zusak's audacity, also on display in his earlier "I Am the Messenger." It will be widely read and admired because it tells a story in which books become treasures. And because there's no arguing with a sentiment like that." - "New York Times" " "