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Liesel Meminger, Rudy Steiner, Hans Hubermann, Rosa Hubermann, Max Vandenburg
2005, by Markus Zusak
Narrated by Death, the story follows Liesel Meminger, a young girl living with foster parents, Hans and Rosa Hubermann, in Nazi Germany during World War II. Liesel settles down into her new home and during her time there, she is exposed to the horrors of the war and politics. Hans, who has developed a close relationship with Liesel, teaches her to read during this time. Recognizing the power of writing and sharing the written word, Liesel not only begins to steal books that the politicians are seeking to destroy, but also writes her own story.
A theme that stands out from the beginning is literacy and power. While language initially is a struggle for the main character, Liesel, it becomes one that empowers her and allows her to quietly rebel against Hitler's regime. Other major themes include kindness, and cruelty of humans, reading and writing, the duality of the Nazi era, mortality, and love.
The Book Thief features innovative stylistic techniques. The most obvious innovation is narrator Death's use of boldface text to relay certain information. The mood of "The Book Thief" is defiantly a somber time, and fear is in the air in Nazi Germany.
Liesel Meminger, Death, Hans Hubermann (Papa), Rosa Hubermann (Mama), Rudy Steiner, Max Vandenburg, Ilsa Hermann, Werner Meminger, Paula Meminger (Liesel's Mother), Hans Jr (Hans' and Rosa's son)
Published in 2005, The Book Thief became an international bestseller and was translated into 63 languages and sold 16 million copies. It was adapted into the 2013 feature film, The Book Thief. The novel has also win several awards, such as Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best Book, Michael L. Printz Honor Book, Best Books for Young Adults (American Library Association).
“The only thing worse than a boy who hates you: a boy that loves you.”
“I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.”
“Even death has a heart.”
“Imagine smiling after a slap in the face. Then think of doing it twenty-four hours a day.”