Rawrrbecca Reads: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Historical Fiction / Published by Black Swan in 2016

Friendship, love, an accordion, books, and a secret in the basement

Liesel, a ten-year-old girl who’s just witnessed the death of her younger brother and apparent abandonment by her mother, is thrust into a brand new life with her foster parents, Hans and Rosa Hubermann in Molching, a fictional town in Germany.

“Sometimes I think my papa is an accordion. When he looks at me and smiles and breathes, I hear the notes.”

Accompanied by her best friend Rudy, Liesel spends her days playing football in the street, learning to read, and adores listening to her papa play the accordion. It beats helping Rosa Hubermann with her ironing duties.

Plagued by nightmares, Liesel discovers the joy of reading all thanks to her papa, and this further encourages her book thieving.

“She wanted none of those days to end, and it was always with disappointment that she watched the darkness stride forward.”

As time goes on, the war gets ever closer and more frightening. Liesel is left to navigate the devastating impacts of Nazi Germany during WW2, all whilst hiding a secret in their very own basement.

Oh, and did I mention? It’s narrated by death. 

Pulls on your heartstrings from the very get-go

The Book Thief opens with a terribly upsetting scene, taking place on a train where Liesel, unfortunately, loses her brother. Don’t worry, this isn’t a spoiler. Forming a bond with Liesel immediately, you’ll quickly find yourself worrying about where she’s going to end up, and how she’ll recover from witnessing such a traumatic event so early in her life. The opening made it really easy to get into the book, especially thanks to Death’s narration, as well as some insights on what’s going to happen to Liesel further down the line.


“The only thing worse than a boy who hates you: a boy that loves you.”

It absolutely broke my heart into smithereens, and had the ability to bring me to tears during my lunch hour, and have to try really hard to pull myself together before going back to work again. This book has made me fall in love with reading again, especially with historical fiction. 

A new favourite, I’ll be recommending it to everyone

I would highly recommend this book and have been telling all of my friends to read it. You’ll fall in love with the characters, and will feel every emotion with them.  You won’t want to say goodbye at the end of the book. 

It also gave me a perspective I’d not explored before, the effects of World War 2 from inside Germany itself. Throughout the book, I really felt a sense of impending doom throughout, juxtaposed with the children from Hummel Street still going out to play football. It really gives you a sense of day to day life, and honestly reminded me not to take having the time to read for granted. 

It felt very fitting to read this now, especially how much unrest there is currently in the world, and was a stark reminder of just how horrific war can be, how it will take no prisoners. It’s only made me want to read up the era and learn more, especially the impact it had on your “average” neighbour next door.