Published in 2005. 552 pages.
2007 Printz Honor Book.
The Book Thief, which was Salt Lake County's 2008 "One County, One Book" selection, has been on my to-read list for ages! Because it was January's pick for Becky's Online Reading Group, I decided that that would be the month I'd finally read it. When my friend and colleague Natalie decided she wanted to do a "book lunch" group and picked The Book Thief as the first book, I definitely had to get it read - and I did. Now - more than three months later - I'm finally getting my review posted.
While I didn't find the book to be the "life-changing" experience that some have, I did like it a lot. The characters are fabulous - including Liesel (the book thief of the title), her foster parents, her best friend Rudy (who wants to grow up to be Jesse Owens), the reclusive mayor's wife (who has a fabulous library), and Max (the young Jewish man that Leisel's family hides in their basement)! I loved discovering the various layers of who each of them were as the book progressed.
What I loved the most was the message of the power of words, both for good and for evil. In author Markus Zusak's words, from "A Reader's Guide" at the end of the paperback version of the book:
I ... realized the importance of words in Nazi Germany. I thought of Hitler destroying people with words, and now I had a girl who was stealing them back, as she read books with the young Jewish man in her basement and calmed people down in the bomb shelters. She writes her own story - and it's a beautiful story - through the ugliness of the world that surrounds her.