A Book for Teens Who Love Books

Tragedy has circled Leisel since she was young and her brother died of a coughing sickness on the train next to her—that was the first time Death came close to Leisel and took note of the lively and tenacious little girl. Narrated by Death itself, The Book Thief is the heavy and heartwarming story of young Liesel Meminger. Set in Nazi Germany during World War Two, The Book Thief follows Leisel after she is adopted into a foster family in a new town. The first half of the book introduces all of it’s amazing characters. Some are very likeable, like Leisel’s foster mother Rosa who waddles around and swears ALL THE TIME. Rosa is a frazzled woman with a huge heart and her constant swearing at everyone she loves is hugely endearing. Rudy, Leisel’s best friend, has a huge crush on Leisel from the moment he sees her punch a school bully in the nose. Rudy idolizes Jesse Owens, the Olympic sprinter who stood up and defied Hitler in the 1939 Olympics. The characters are all multilayered and readers will not be able to help getting very attached to all of them from the first introductions.

The Book Thief is a book for teenagers and young adults who love to read. It is about the power of books, and the power of words to heal or to hurt. Leisel learns to read at a late age, and she begins with the books she has stolen. Her father teaches her to read during midnight practice sessions while Rosa snores loudly from the bedroom. Reading for Leisel is a magical escape into other worlds. Once Leisel has mastered reading she spontaneously begins to read one night during an air raid. All the local families in the bomb-shelter stop crying and worrying to listen to the girl and the words she is reading. Leisel represents all the good and healing that can come from books and words. On the other hand, throughout the book Hitler is more of a local character than a faraway dictator. Leisel hates him for burning books, and remarks at how stupid his little moustache is. But Leisel knows where Hitler’s power comes from: his words. Hitler has used the fear and sadness of the people and added his own mix of hate and racism to fuel the terrible thing that Nazi Germany becomes.

If you too have ever felt the power and pull of a good book, you will love The Book Thief. It is a deep and multilayered novel that will leave you wanting more. Have some tissues ready, because the sad parts are devastating and the comedy will make you laugh until you cry.

If you like The Book Thief check out Zusak’s next book, I Am the Messenger. Another laugh/cry roller-coaster of emotions, I Am the Messenger is narrated by Ed Kennedy, and follows his life and adventures as a teenage taxi-driver. After stopping a robbery Kennedy is forced into becoming the hero he didn’t think he wanted to be.