How much do you know about “The Book Thief”?

During World war II, Nazi-dominated student groups across Germany burned over 25000 books they considered to be “un-German resulting in extirpate the works of Jewish authors like Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud alongside American authors such as Ernest Hemingway and Helen Keller.

The book burning
The book burning

Markus Zusak took the privilege to be inspired by the hard times of World war II and crafted his imaginations to plot Death as the narrator, who proves to be morose yet caring.

Markus Zusak

In this historical fiction, “The Book Thief”, Death narrates the journey of a young girl from Germany to Australia.

The plot follows Liesel Meminger as she comes of age in Nazi Germany during World War II. After the death of her younger brother on a train on the outskirts of Munich, Liesel arrives at the home of her new foster parents, distraught and withdrawn.

Caught between the innocence of childhood and the maturity demanded by the destructive surroundings, she meets with Max, a Jewish man concealed by her foster parents, who teaches Liesel to read.

Recognizing the power of writing and the written words, Liesel not only begins to steal books that the Nazi party is looking to destroy but also started to write her own story.

One day, while Liesel was working on her manuscript in the basement, the bombs fall on Liesel’s street, killing her friends, family, and neighbours.

Devastated, Liesel is taken in by the mayor, and his wife Ilsa Hermann and her manuscript were saved by the Death.

Many years later, or in the words of Death, “just yesterday”, Liesel dies as an old woman in the suburbs of Sydney, Australia, when Death collects her soul, he gives her the manuscript she lost in the bombing. She asks him if he read it and Death says, yes.

Death is unable to understand the duality of humanity. Death’s last words are for both Liesel and the reader, “I am haunted by humans.”

Published in 2005, “The Book Thief” became an international bestseller and was translated into 63 languages and sold 16 million copies. It was adapted into a 2013 feature film of the same name.

This historical fiction and the characterization is so real, you will be totally transported back into that era, go through this story as a live spectator, not just a reader.

So don’t let this book sit in your “To Be Read” list. It’s beautifully written and the story will stay with you forever.

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