Liesel, a nine-year-old girl, is living with a foster family on Himmel Street. Her parents have been taken away to a concentration camp. Liesel steals books. This book is a story of: a girl; an accordionist; some fanatical Germans; a Jewish fist fighter; and quite a lot of thievery.
*spoiler* but only if you like books recommended and reading them oblivious to the story. :)
Australian writer Markus Zusak never expected his novel, The Book Thief, to be such a huge international hit. In an interview, he said that he imagined people describing it to their friends saying something like: "Well, it's set in Nazi Germany, it's narrated by Death, nearly everyone dies -- oh, and it's 550 pages long, you'll love it..." Well, despite -- or perhaps, because -- of all those elements, readers do love the book and The Book Thief has become a phenomenal, runaway success.
Our heroine is a 9 year old girl called Leisel Meminger. Leisel is sent to a foster family after her brother dies and her mother has, ominously, been "sent away". Her life is changed forever when, by her brother's grave, she picks up a book hidden in the snow. It is The Gravediggers Handbook, and taking it is her first act of book theft. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayors wifes library, wherever there are books to be taken. As Markus says, the narrator of the book is Death which, as soon as you think about it, seems oddly fitting for a book about Nazi Germany. There is a quietly radical element to the book, too, which shows how difficult life was for ordinary Germans during this period. A moving, intelligent page-turner.