Review Of 'The Book Thief' Essays

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Review of: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak


It seems sometimes like the market for young adult literature is written down to the readers, almost in a condescending manner. That is why a book like The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is so refreshing in this sea of cookie cutter romances and fantasies. While classified as a young adult novel, it deals with very serious themes. The book’s cover comes printed with this label: “It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.” It is a dark allusion to what is to come. But Zusak makes this story more accessible to the audience he is writing to and does this by creating identifiable characters, by bringing humor into
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Hans is a passionate, caring man who earns his living as a house painter by day and an accordion player by night. Liesel believes his eyes show kindness, and is closer to him from the beginning than to her foster mother. He is one of a few in their village who is not a registered member of the Nazi party, which comes to have serious repercussions on the family as the book progresses. Rosa Hubermann is a stern, strong woman who looks like a “wardrobe with a coat thrown over it” and would be “cute,” but appears perpetually annoyed. She peppers her language with epithets like “Saumensch” and “Saukerl” and “Arschloch”. “Sau” refers to “pig” and mensch is girl and kerl is man, arschloch sounds pretty close to its English equivalent. From the beginning Liesel is “saumensch,” which at first refers to Rosa’s annoyance at taking this girl in, even though it does mean more money for the family. But by the end, it has become a term of true endearment. Liesel’s best friend in the village is a little boy named Rudy, “the boy next door who was obsessed with the black American athlete Jesse Owens.” Rudy is in love with Liesel and always pesters her for a kiss, which he does finally receive, after some pretty serious turns in the story. He is a simple, almost naïve boy, and would do almost anything for her, including jumping into a nearly…

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