Jemm Frances Reads: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak


This isn’t a book I have just read but one that I have read again and again. An old favourite you might say.

Back in my student days I did a stint working in a bookshop, at the time I didn’t know anything about this particular book but the jacket caught my imagination and I just had to read it. 

We had a bit of a bumpy start myself and The Book Thief due to the fact that it was unlike anything I’d read before (how many other stories do you know narrated by Death?) On my first attempt I got a few pages in then put it down (very unlike me to give up so easily) and started reading something else. But you really have to give this book a chance. On my second attempt I preserved past the first chapter where it all starts to make sense and found that I couldn’t put it down.

Death has a busy schedule what with collecting souls, keeping a watchful eye on the book thief and finding the time to narrate this story, but then again this is Nazi Germany in the midst of World War 2.

That’s right, this story is narrated by Death himself, but don’t let that put you off. There is nothing to be afraid of. Given the circumstances of the time Death is busier than ever and really doesn’t have the time to waste but throughout the course of his work he finds himself continually distracted by a nine-year-old girl.

Most of us are only visited once by death, this particular little girl is visited three times.

However the girl in question Liesel Merminger is also keeping herself busy with starting a new life with her foster family, making friends with a boy with lemon coloured hair, playing football on Himmel street, learning to read and embarking on a career as a book thief.

While Hitler is burning books, Liesel is stealing them.

 And then there is the small matter of her hiding a Jew in her basement…

As witty as it is haunting, this is a tale of love, loss and of finding friends in the most unlikely of places. Cleverly told through Death’s perspective it illustrates the horrors of war, the innocence of children and the beauty of friendships.

This book is brilliantly written, both heart-warming and devastating in equal measure. Zusak creates characters you’ll love and be heartbroken to say goodbye to, surely the measure of a good book. It’s a story you wont forget in a hurry, not a new book but one that you must read if you haven’t already. 

Bookworm Business: Have you read The Book Thief? Do you have any similar recommendations? What are you reading at the moment? Comment in the box or send me a tweet @JemmFrances.

Jemm xoxo


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