There's a reason that this book has received so many gleaming reviews and is celebrated by so many. In ten days I was transported to 1930s Nazi Germany and fell in love with the story of Liesel Meminger, the book thief.
Firstly, we're introduced to Death. He explains that he is tired of his job and in desperate need of a holiday, but who else would carry the souls the same way that he could? In order to avoid distractions, he rarely looks down at the people who are left behind. The worst part of his job is not collecting the souls of the dead, but glancing down at the pain-stricken family and friends who have been left to grieve.
He prefers to look at the colour of the sky, until he meets Liesel and steals her notebook. The young girls spirit and passion for words enchants him and he retells her story. Liesel has already seen more than any ten year old should have. The death of her brother haunts her, providing her with the most epic and frightening nightmares.
Her mother gives her up to a foster family, due to her ill-health and she is never seen or heard from again. Although her new carers love Liesel, there's still something missing. Set in Germany in 1939, she is apart of the Hitler Youth and the majority of the nation has been brainwashed by the words of Hitler.
This novel explores the beauty and the power that words can have. They can control a whole nation, but they can awaken people, too. Liesel finds her place and purpose in words and begins stealing novels. First to help her to read and then to offer an escape. They will eventually lead her into telling her own story.
Markus introduces a wide range of characters and families. Each with their own problems and each psychologically whole. It can often be difficult for an author to include so many different characters and have the reader keep up, but he does this flawlessly. Liesel's relationships with her Papa, her best friend, Rudy and Jewish boy, Max become central to the story. It's wonderful to see each one unfold and develop.
It's a strange mix of humour, devastation and hope. You'll feel a wide scope of emotions when reading this novel. I cried because I was heartbroken, but I also cried because I was relieved. (Disclaimer: there was a lot of crying!)
Have you read The Book Thief? What did you think?