Taking and borrowing are very different things. If you know right from wrong, you know that borrowing is okay if you have asked permission from the owner to use something. However, borrowing with the intent of keeping (aka stealing) is socially unacceptable. Why then, do I feel compelled to empathize with Leisel Meminger, a book thief? I enjoy reading just as much as the next person, but the one time was accused of borrowing a book from the library and never returned it, I felt awful about it. It had my stomach in knots even though I knew I had returned the book, but the library could not find it, and they wanted us to pay for it. Long story short, they found the book in questions (whew). However, Leisel takes one book and as a reader you might feel kind of sorry for her.
Here’s the backdrop for the story. Leisel is a girl living in Nazi Germany. She lives with a foster family after her brother dies and mother leaves. The kicker is that Leisel does not know the first thing about reading, so she goes to school and learns to read with the help of her foster father. Leisel is a bit mischievous, but her heart is good and she means well. That does not mean she never finds herself in trouble. Her mother even has a nickname for her. The Book Thief is a story filled with difficulties, learning curves, and lifelong friendships. While it is a hefty book, you’ll find yourself wanting to turn the next page to find out what happens next.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak was recently made into a film, and from what I can tell, it did rather well. I enjoyed both the book and the film, but I highly recommend you read the book before watching the film. I will say the film does a pretty good job sticking to the storyline. It is one of the better films based on a book that I have seen.
Markuz Zusak is a fabulous writer who is also known for writing The Messenger. He certainly did his research, and the historical background descriptions are very well depicted in his choice of words. Zusak does a wonderful job telling Leisel’s incredible story. I highly recommend this book to mature teen and young adult readers. If you enjoy reading historical fiction, then you will enjoy this book. Barnes and Noble recommends this book for readers ages 12-17 years old. I would like to warn parents that moderate language is present. Although the words are in German, the English interpretation is given. I hope you enjoy reading this historical fiction novel as I did.