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on 9 November 2017
Set in Germany during the Second World War this book is narrated by death. Not the vindictive stealer of life we assume, but a more paternalistic purveyor of souls. Like a character from Greek myth he is just there to carry people to the other side. There is almost a tenderness in the way he speaks of carrying the children.

In common with more modern books, such as The Boy in the Stripped Pyjamas, The Reader and Valkyrie, this book gives the German perspective. Similar to Anne Frank’s Diary, the reader is introduced to a girl’s perspective and her relationships with German Jews. Initially I wondered why it was necessary for her to be a book thief, apart from her poverty. Then I reflected on the fact that in Nazi Germany a lot of books were burnt, therefore there is something seditious in books themselves. Equally due to her background she has not learned to read very well and this becomes part of her development, although I don’t think this is overly represented in the book.

Liesel’s relationship with Ruddy is one of camaraderie and mutual support. In one sense he is Liesel’s partner in crime when she goes to the mayors house to steal the books. It also emphasises how isolated she is and how much she depends on her relationship with him and Max. Liesel’s adopted parents display both generosity and practicality. Papa is the dreaming musician who paints people’s houses and plays the accordion. He often paints for nothing, including painting over the offensive graffiti daubed on Jewish houses, something which is forbidden by the Nazi’s. It is this behaviour which keeps him out of the party, but it is his generosity giving food to marching Jews which is Liesel’s inspiration for her later actions. Mama is the practical one, taking in ironing to earn money to feed the family. Work which diminishes throughout the novel, whether from poverty or due to her husband’s behaviour it is not totally clear. Yet despite her strict exterior she takes Max in and is concerned that he does not freeze to death in their basement. Max like the mayor’s wife has nothing to give but books. She leaves the window open to allow Liesel access to her library, Max paints over the pages of a book in order to provide a blank page to write Liesel a story. Everyone in the book, despite their poverty, gives, except the Nazi’s who take lives, keeping death busy.

The horror of the holocaust is not minimised by deaths admonition that he is busy following Dachau, but it is not gruesome. It is almost with a sadness that he collects the souls of those who died so young, especially the children. It is then fitting that the book thief lives a long life into old age before death comes to collect her.
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on 23 April 2017
Oh what a wonderful book. It was recommended by a friend and is amazing. Truly beautiful, read it.... Just read it.....
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on 19 April 2017
The book is thought provoking and should be read by all.Worth talking about with others that have read it. Good book
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on 23 June 2014
I have tried so hard to get into this book, I am an avid reader and as it was recommended to me by several people assumed that it was going to improve and I was suddenly going to be gripped. I am now over halfway through and still struggling. I found the story tedious and repetitive and sometimes when I pick it up again I am convinced I have read the same pages over and over. I can feel no empathy with the characters and have read far more powerful accounts of war time Germany. I normally read a book reasonably quickly but I have been reading this (interspersed with other books which I rarely do, but have to have a break from it) for about 5 weeks now and having read some of the other "one and two star" reviews, am now convinced it is time to give up.
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on 20 October 2017
Just finished this while on a train to work and only just managing not to have to dry my eyes.

Set in wartime Germany, and seen from the eyes of a Young orphaned pre-teen Girl, the narrator (death) just let’s the reality of living in the Second World War Under Nazi rule unfold in a restrained manner with the horrors emerging bit by bit. All of the actors in the book are beautifully written even the minor ones having depth and it gives an enormous insight into humankind.

Read this book, you won’t regret it.
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on 5 March 2017
Very unusual treatment of a fairly familiar story (1930s - 1940s Germany/Nazi Germany/2nd World War). First person narration by Death himself. Witty, engaging, engrossing and lyrical. Very much enjoyed and highly recommended.
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on 22 March 2017
Good, easy read
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on 17 October 2017
This is the most moving book I have read for a long time.Although born in England, my Mother's family came from Hamburg, and I had never realised what hell, ordinary Germans were put through.
This is not a book that can be turned into a film, words are everything here.
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on 25 June 2016
Excellent read, I read the book after watching the film. Both good.
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on 10 April 2017
Great to step back in history to find heroes in many guises.
Five star on many levels.
Suspense, joy, grief, happiness, generosity.
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