This is a quick book summary and analysis of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. The Book Thief is a witty book. While reading the book the readers might experience a smile on their faces by the wittiness style of writing. Markus Zusak is a great writer indeed!
About the Book
This is a story about a German girl named Liesel who travels by train with her mother and brother to her new foster family in the small city of Molching, Germany just before World War 2.
However, on the train, her younger brother dies. They bury the boy, but one of the gravediggers leaves behind a book. Liesel picks that book and continues on her journey.
Liesel reaches Molching and started to live with her foster parents(Rosa as Mama and Hans as Papa).
About the foster Parents
Foster parents: People who officially take a child into their family for a period of time, without becoming the child’s legal parents.
Hans(Papa) is a soft-hearted painter who loves to play Accordion[a playing instrument] while Rosa(Mama) is a woman who enjoys cursing everyone.
Liesel is very nervous when she started living in their house, she consistently had nightmares of her dead brother. But her papa sat beside her and consoled her about everything. Papa discovered a book that Liesel kept with her.
Eventually, Papa started reading the book to her every day and taught her to read and write.
She helped her Mama with the laundry business where she collects and delivers the laundry to the rich houses in the area. Mayor’s house’s large library of books interests her and she starts to sit on the floor of the library room and reading books in the presence of Mayor’s wife.
In her spare time, she enjoys playing soccer with the other kids. Rudy, an athletic boy befriends her and they become best friends; participate in mischief like stealing.
But times begin to get harder for the Hubermanns as the country’s internal conflict with the Jews escalates into World War 2. Rosa’s laundry business gradually lost all the customers. At last, Mayor also did not let Rosa continue with the Laundry work. This disheartened the little girl and with rage; to spite the Mayor’s wife, she started stealing books from her library.
One day a stranger man named Max, a Jewish boxer visited their house escaping persecution[victimization from Germans]. He is the son of a man who saved Hans’s life during World War 1. Hans takes Max and gives him a hiding shelter in the basement of their house.
Life becomes stressful for Max as they continue to hide Max. During his time in the basement, Max begins to dream and starts writing, illustrating on the blank pages of Mein Kampf. He shares this with Liesel and she loves them.
Max eventually leaves, fearing that he has endangered the family enough. Hans is then enrolled in the army which made his wife and Liesel really sad. He does a good job clearing away debris but gets injured in a truck accident.
This brings him back home with a broken leg. The broken leg is nothing compared to a dead man. So Hans’s family cheered up with his return.
The stealing of books
The Mayor’s wife meets Liesel and tells her that she knows about the stealing of books from her. Instead of getting angry she presents the Book Thief with a black book with blank pages and asks her to write a story.
In the Book, the Book Thief spends each night writing in the basement. One night while Liesel was busy writing in the basement the town gets bombed and all the people including her foster parents and friends are killed. Liesel is the only survivor. She is left with intense grief.
Who is the narrator of the story? Is it Liesel? No! Death is literally telling this story. The tone is personable though. The narrator is the personification of death; whether it be a reaper, angel of death, or demon.
Readers are learning the story of Liesel and the family through an omnipotent narrator who is both spiritual and supernatural.
Through this insight of death by death, readers learn that
Death is inevitable and that we are on its schedule
In the end, Liesel, the book thief, is raised by the Mayor and his wife and grows up to have a family of her own.
This is a story about death. Death occurs throughout the story and ultimately defines many of the characters. This story also discusses the power of words and language. Readers see the rise of Liesel through just the simple act of reading.
From reading it comes to her writing. This is when she begins authoring her own life that she finds her true power.