The best effect of any book is that it excites the reader to self-activity.
-- Thomas Carlyle (1795 - 1881)

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Middle school readersHigh school readers
9 stars

The Book Thief

AR: 5.1
Lexile: 730
RC: 4
by Markus Zusak     Illus. by Trudy White
Long Novel
Genre: Realistic Historical Fiction

ALA Best Books for Young Adults

Death narrates the story of Liesel, an adolescent girl who lived in Hitler's Germany. The first time Death noticed her, she was "stealing" a book while graveside at her younger brother's funeral. From there, she went to live with some foster parents, during which time she made new friends, learned to read, helped hide a Jewish fist-fighter, and stole more books. To tell more than this would take away the joy of her unique journey.

All I can say is, "Wow!". This was such a good book. It is a YA novel, but I think grown-ups will enjoy it just as much.

I originally picked it up because I read an e-book sample that really intrigued me. And, boy am I glad I did! The narration by Death (yes, that Death) is unique and a thrill to read. Death describes colors and details in ways I have never read before. Unusual phrases should be awkward, but here they are not. A basement becomes "unfriendlier with each concrete step" and characters walk under "the breakfast-colored sun". With this original style of narration, Death unfolds a compelling story of hope and humanity. If you are like me, you will cry at the end (and tear up a few times in the middle), but it's a good kind of cry. Fans of good writing and historical fiction will really enjoy this book!

Read the excerpt that turned me on to this great book!

Listen to an excerpt from the audiobook version:

(Last modified:02/12/2012)


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