Author: Markus Zusak
Publication Date: 2007
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, historical
Length: 550 pages
I didn’t expect to like this book. The narrator is Death! But once I met Liesel Meminger, her plight so moved me that I had to know her complete story. While the characters are fraught with fears and challenges, there is still an air of expectancy, of joy in the midst of suffering.
Liesel has come to Molching, a village on the outskirts of Munich, to live with the Hubermann family. Mrs. Hubermann—Rosa—is a short, squat, brash woman who shouts and swears at Liesel as often as not; her husband, Hans, a painter and musician of sorts, is a man who cares for the girl gently and tenderly through her recurring nightmares.
Add to this Rudy Steiner, a boy down the street, who becomes Liesel’s best friend; and the Jew hiding in the basement, and we have a fascinating story of life on Himmel Street during World War II.
At the beginning of the tale, Liesel struggles with reading, but over the course of her story, she becomes so enamored with words and their power that she pilfers books when she can’t resist.
In spite of her difficult transition from her own family unit to the Hubermann household during Hitler’s ignominious period of influence, Liesel manages to survive, her journey spanning a vast array of experiences, emotions and perspectives.
Author Markus Zusak, who has also written several other award winning young adult books, says, “I grew up in Sydney, but when my parents told stories about their childhoods in Germany and Austria during World War II, it was like a piece of Europe entered our house.” Zusak has graciously and effectively shared these pieces of history with us through the eyes of a young girl named Liesel Meminger. I recommend it to discerning readers of any age.
This book has also been made into a movie, but although I’ve heard good reviews, I would suggest you first read the book. It’s always better!