Count Your Blessings in 550 Pages

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

First Line: “I am in all truthfulness attempting to be cheerful about this whole topic, though most people find themselves hindered in believing me, no matter my protestations.”

Death is the narrator and this opening line (I confess, it’s not the opening line) is a comment on his occupation. “Here is a small fact,” he says. “You are going to die.”

This book is not for the faint of heart. (But it’s Nazi Germany–what did you expect?) There are some heavy events, but I agree with the publisher’s assessment: it’s suitable for those as young as twelve.

My ho-hum review on this read stems mostly from the title. Young Liesel’s adventures weren’t as daring as I’d hoped. She takes one book from a Nazi book burning. She steals apples a few times. I think her “book thief” nickname is somewhat forced. Her collection basically comes from sneaking into the mayor’s library, and they leave the window open and have hundreds of titles, so it’s not terribly tricky.

Zusak has created some very touching relationships, though, and that’s what kept me reading. While I don’t feel compelled to rant and rave about this title, Liesel’s foster parents, her best friend Rudy, and Max, the family’s stowaway Jew, are very memorable characters. It’s also neat to hear Death’s view on life and war.

Bottom Line: Try this book if you’re in the mood for something depressing and/or your English class has assigned a paper for the historical fiction genre.