My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Sum it up in a sentence (or two): the story of Liesel, a young girl growing up in 1940s Germany, plus her foster family (the Hubermanns), and best friend(s) (Rudy and Max).
First thoughts: Having death as a narrator is a nice solemn, yet not overly dramatic, touch. S/he is very matter-of-fact, especially considering s/he is about to become the protagonist once WWII starts in earnest. As I read, I wasn't sure where the story was going, other than following Liesel's youth, but every page was so intriguing and pleasant and well-crafted that I didn't care.
Words and phrases: I was struck by so many beautiful passages - they were on every page and drew me through this depressing and gorgeous book. The style, tone, pacing, and subtle clever touches were amazing.
Favorite characters: Liesel. She is relatable, somehow (we have almost nothing in common). Rudy is a charmer, so you have to like him. Hans/Papa as well. And Max. And Rosa. And Ilsa. This is a great character book.
"...the words were on their way, and when they arrived, Liesel would hold them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out like the rain." p 80
"Verstehst du mich?" (Do you understand me?) -Papa, p 204
"'Don't punish yourself,' she heard her [Ilsa] say again, but there would be punishment and pain, and there would be happiness too. That was writing." p 525
"I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn't already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race - that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so damning and brilliant." p 550
Final thoughts: I was basically in tears at the end of this book. If I ever watch the movie, I'll have to view it like a whole separate entity, because there is no translating the layers of this story to film. Each page was a treat, and put all together, The Book Thief was a reading feast.
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