The Book Thief is a historical fiction novel about a girl named Liesel who loves words and books, to the extent that she is willing to steal them. It is narrated by the sarcastic, ever working, overwhelmed, and caring Death throughout the period of World War II. Given by her mother, who is unable to care for her, to foster parents, she learns from her foster father, Papa, how to read so that she will be able to read the first book she ever stole, which is the last link to her little brother, who died on the way to their new home. Gradually, Liesel grows to love books, stealing them from Nazi book burnings and even the mayor’s library. Her life and the life of her foster parents, the Hubermans, is complicated when they hide a Jewish man named Max in their basement, as the repayment of a debt Liesel’s Papa owed to Max’s dead father. Liesel can not breathe a word of this to anyone, even her best friend Rudy, or she, the Hubermans, and Max, who she becomes great friends with, will be killed by the Nazis. The climatic ending is both tragic and beautifully written, and it shows the mammoth importance of words.
This is one of my favorite books of all time. The theme demonstrated throughout the novel is of the power of words. Words can cause hate, destruction, evil, and chaos, but they can also inspire love, kindness, generosity, and courage, even in the face of death. The character development was masterfully done, especially in Liesel and Rudy. Throughout the whole novel, you see the conflicting emotions and struggles, both internal and external, of Liesel. She is a beautiful, lovable, and relatable character. I also love the growth of Rudy from a naive, immature, and foolish ten-year-old to an intelligent, virtuous, generous, and kind young man. A side plot of the story is the maturing love Rudy has for Liesel from the first day, and the feelings she develops for him, but the real love story of this book is the affair between Liesel and words. This book is a beautiful, realistic, and memorable masterpiece, and I believe everyone should read it, no matter what their reading preferences may be.