The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

This was an odd book, so odd that I probably wouldn’t have managed to get very far into it if it hadn’t been recommended so highly by so many people. I’m a straightforward, A-Z, kind of gal. Give me a story that starts out “Once upon a time” and ends with “happily ever after.” Or not happily. Tragedy is OK, too. But I like it straight and plain-spoken, or maybe poetic, but not a strange, episodic story narrated by the Grim Reaper himself.

Except I did like The Book Thief, so I’m confused. The book starts out with this comforting announcement:

* * * HERE IS A SMALL FACT * * *
You are going to die.

It ends with Death Himself beng confused and “haunted by humans.”

So, make what you will of that, and decide whether or not you want to read an odd book about Death and the Holocaust and World War II and bombs and Germany with lots of cursing, mostly in German, and lots of the aforementioned death, mostly of everybody in the book. It sounds depressing, but it’s not really. It is gritty and the tiniest bit hopeful, but not too. I can’t decide if kids will like it or not. I don’t think my kids would care for it. But some might. Or this might be the sort of book that will win lots of awards because it’s written in a different, literary sort of way and it’s about a Serious Subject, but it’s mostly loved by librarians and teachers. I can see high school teachers assigning this book in literature classes or history classes.

If I sound ambivalent, it’s because I am. Help? Someone else tell me now that I’ve read it why it was that you liked it so much.

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Writen by Sherry

I'm a Christian, the homeschooling mom of eight (yes, all mine) children, married to a NASA engineer, and a confirmed bookaholic. I like old books, conservative politics, and new and interesting ideas. My hair is grey, my favorite clothes are red, and I love purple. Come on in and enjoy the blog. Be sure to tell me what you think before you leave.

10 thoughts on “The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

  1. I have this sitting on my book shelf – I will definitely be reading it, just because of all the interesting/ambivalent reviews I’ve read. Have to see for myself.

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  3. My 12 yo daughter loved this book, could not put it down and was oblivious to conversation around her while reading. My 10 yo son started it, wrinkled his nose and said it was “weird” and that he didn’t want to continue. But your review now makes me want to see which kid I agree with…

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  5. I teach high school reading (11th and 12th) My students are so confused. I had to read with each group in order to get them through some of the confusion. They are struggling to keep going. Any suggestions?

  6. Brittany: I’m not sure what to say. I really didn’t love the book that much, and I think that assigning it to high school students is dicey at the very least. Some of them might like it, but I would guess that most won’t.

  7. It seems that many adults have their opinions here, talking about what their kids think. I am 13, and I got this book when I was about 9 or 10. I loved it then, and every time I’ve read it I’ve understood more and loved it even more. Actually, my friends, who are also 13, have thought of it as wierd, even though they’ve only read the back cover. I just wanted to add a positive note, as this is my favorite book I’ve ever read.

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