I Give This Book 4 Stars!
Description: Death, a sardonic and articulate character who is afraid of humans, narrates this WWII coming-of-age story about faith, love, hope amidst tragedy.
Zusak has created a work that deserves the attention of sophisticated teen and adult readers. Death himself narrates the World War II-era story of Liesel Meminger from the time she is taken, at age nine, to live in Molching, Germany, with a foster family in a working-class neighborhood of tough kids, acid-tongued mothers, and loving fathers who earn their living by the work of their hands.
The child arrives having just stolen her first book –- although she has not yet learned how to read -– and her foster father uses it, The Gravediggers Handbook, to lull her to sleep when she's roused by regular nightmares about her younger brother's death. Across the ensuing years of the late 1930s and into the 1940s, Liesel collects more stolen books as well as a peculiar set of friends: the boy Rudy, the Jewish refugee Max, the mayor's reclusive wife (who has a whole library from which she allows Liesel to steal), and especially her foster parents.
Zusak not only creates a mesmerizing and original story but also writes with poetic syntax, causing readers to deliberate over phrases and lines, even as the action impels them forward. Death is not a sentimental storyteller, but he does attend to an array of satisfying details, giving Liesel's story all the nuances of chance, folly, and fulfilled expectation that it deserves. An extraordinary narrative.
I had a really hard time getting into this story at first. It wasn't that it was a bad book, just a little slow. As it progressed, I started to enjoy it more. But, it never felt like that 4 or 5 star review that you so often see for this title. But, then I got to the last 100 pages or so. All of a sudden I couldn't put it down. It gripped me until the end. I even cried. All of a sudden a book that was close to being a 3 maybe 3.5 star book became a 4. I'd like to give it more, but the beginning brings it down. The end was completely worth the 400 or so pages it took to get there.