A World War II novel told from the perspective of German citizens. Liesel Meminger is a ten year old girl who is adopted by a kindly housepainter and his volatile but big-hearted wife. When she is teased at school for being illiterate, her father begins nightly reading sessions to encourage her. It is a time of rationing and book burning and Liesel must scavenge for new material to read. When a young Jewish man arrives on their doorstep asking for help, the family hides him in the basement of their tiny house. Max is suffering physically and mentally from his years in hiding and Liesel’s heart goes out to him. The two form a strong friendship and Max encourages her love of reading and writing.
What the Armchair Critics Thought:
Most of us really enjoyed the story in this book, although opinions were mixed on the structure. The character of Death, who narrates the book, is prone to making pronouncements that break the flow of the writing, and it was quite annoying when he would reveal key events long before they happened. The story was a gripping one, with wonderful characters like Liesel’s valiant best friend Rudy, and the strange, silent Mayor’s wife. The novel was also a testament to the adaptability of children, who continued to play street football, attend school and fight against small injustices while experiencing the horror of starving prisoners being marched through town. The friendship between Liesel and Max was wonderfully portrayed, with scenes like the indoor snowball fight or the small pile of get well gifts which really stayed with the reader.