The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Anna Collins Argumentative Book Review

Introduction

This book is set in 1939 during the beginning of World War 2 death has never been this busy collecting souls, and he is going to soon get even more busy. In the novel, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak 9 year old Liesel Meminger just witnessed her young brother’s death on the way to her new foster parents house. During the burial, at his graveside she sees a book hidden beneath the snow. This book, The Grave Digger's Handbook would be one of the last memories of her mother and brother, she reads it with her new papa, Hans. After reading the book and learning words related to it, she becomes engrossed in finding another book to read. The plot is continually throwing smaller plots that lead up to the large one, you get immersed into the story, it puts a new perspective on the war. I enjoyed reading this book because of its surprises, the great writing technique and the small love story between the two main characters. This book will remind readers of books like, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and Hitler Youth it has also been made into a movie adaptation.

Expanded Plot Summary

During these times, Jews are being captured and sent to prison camps, Liesel's father brings a Jewish person into the basement named Max. Consequently, Liesel must now keep the secret of the fist fighter from everyone including her best friend, Rudy Steiner. The book keeps your interest and leaves you wanting to find out what happens. Markus Zusak keeps on adding hints on what happens at the end which made you want to be able to figure out the full story. The book is also in the viewpoint of an unsuspecting person. The overall theme of the book is that words hold a compelling power to allow people to commit acts of cruelty. Such as, when the Nazis would make the Jews march to the camps, then they would yell at them and treat them unequally because of what they believed in. People would often call Liesel Saumensch which meant pig Liesel and Rosa would often call papa and Rudy saukerl.

Reader criticism

I personally enjoyed how the author used descriptive terms in the story so that I felt that I was in the story and I knew exactly what was going on at that time. I admired how he was also good at telling the story in the way that it seemed you were being told many years after it had happened. I however did not like that some of the book was spoiled for the reader it would be about Rudy wanting a kiss, then would say if he had ever gotten one which was told at the end of the book. It kept my interest, but it was not as big of a surprise when it had happened. I also thought that some parts of the book were a little bit too wordy and they seemed to drag on especially in the prologue. That made it confusing and a little bit hard to follow.


I would recommend the book to most people who are over the age of 11 because it can get sad and graphic at some brief places. Along with that, the reader would need to enjoy learning about and already has some prior knowledge WWII because it mentions some things that are important that you already know who they are because they do affect the plot. I liked how it would have hints during the paragraphs to remind or tell you what had happened in the past and how it showed Liesel's “Keys to Happiness and what she wanted to have.


I would recommend the book to most people who are over the age of 11 because it can get sad and graphic at some brief places. Along with that, the reader would need to enjoy learning about and already has some prior knowledge WWII because it mentions some things that are important that you already know who they are because they do affect the plot. I liked how it would have hints during the paragraphs to remind or tell you what had happened in the past and how it showed Liesel's “Keys to Happiness and what she wanted to have.

Analysis of Historical

The book included historically accurate items about the Nazi’s leader, Hitler but, an important follower named Rolf Fischer seemed to be made up. It is also correct about the Hitler Youth programs, and Kristallnacht or Reichskristallnacht, also referred to as The Night of Broken Glass. But, the author did make up books even the first book that Liesel had stolen from the Grave Site, The Grave Digger's Handbook. Markus Zusak seemed to try and add many true details. He added false ones to make the story more interesting to the readers and to keep our attention. Some were true but, some extra details were added to them. One example was the Road of Yellow stars, their was a road of Yellow stars but, it was not originally called that. Some locations were not true Himmel street where the book was set up is not a real place either.


Overall, the author did give enough details to help me understand the historical setting of the novel. The author seemed to use the fictitious details if there were not enough details to stay on the plot. I think that the amount of details used was fine, but I would have liked it if Zusak had added 1-2 more real books so that I could have more knowledge of what the book was about. All of the added details did align with the plot.

Short Informative Piece

That was when Rudy stepped forward. He faced Franz Deutscher, looking up at him. “He’s got a problem, sir-” “I can see that” “With his ears,” Rudy finished. “He can’t-” “Right that’s it.” Deutscher rubbed his hands together. “Both of you- six laps of the grounds.” Part five the whistler chapter five pg. 269The Hitler Youth Programs are mentioned a good bit in the novel but what are they? The Hitler youth programs are an idea that Adolf Hitler had to train young boys about the war and get them physically fit to go to war. The girls were enrolled in the BDM or the Bund Deutscher Mädchen it was the Band of German girls. As Liesel described it they made sure your “heil Hitler” was working properly you were told to march straight, roll bandages, and sew up clothes.

Rudy did not enjoy this group at all and often fell and got cow manure his face. He then joined the Flieger-HJ in which aviation enthusiasts built gliders, participated in annual glider flying competitions, Rudy was much happier in that group instead. He was without his old mean leader that had not liked him at all and was named, Franz Deutscher. Liesel was able to steal a book at an annual Jew burning fest when everyone would bring something that had anything to do with Jew. She stole the book and the only person who saw her was the mayor's wife, that lead to the Mayor’s wife, Ilsa Hermann letting her read in their library.

Short Narrative Piece

As I looked out of the taxi door, I see my new foster parents coming outside to greet me. My new papa has warm caring eyes and a bright smile on his face. My new mama has stern eyes and silver grey hair pulled up unto a tight bun. I was not willing to get out of the taxi. I wanted to see my real mama and cry with her about my brother. The street was not like the name it was almost the total opposite. It’s name, Himmel street which means heaven this was not heaven the buildings were cement and brick. The streets had few stores left over and the few that were left were not very inviting. You could tell that this was not a rich town. The mama is very mad that they only have one child not two. My brother was supposed to be with me but, death took him. They get paid by the government to take care of me. They look sad and angry because they are only going to take care of me but, they do not know how I feel about it. I lost a brother.


I was not going to get out of the taxi even though I was freezing. After a little while, I get out slowly going into the box like house. Hans, my new papa was trying to get me to roll a cigarette and Rosa my new mama was trying to talk to me. My mama wants me to take a bath but, I refuse to. After I was taught to roll a cigarette, I was told to take a bath but I refused. That night I started to have terrible nightmares and then Papa would come into my room and comfort me and get me back to sleep with him watching over me. I would have nightmares for the next few years and most would be about my brothers dead eyes looking back at me.

Symbolism

n The Book Thief, there are many symbols in the book that mean something to Liesel. First is the book The Grave Digger's Handbook, it is one of Liesel’s last memories of her brother and her mother before she leaves. Once she got to the Huberman’s Household Liesel hid it under her bed from everyone else but, Hans found it, he was taking the sheets off of the bead and, then it fell on the floor. She learns to read from her new father, Hans and they read the book together at night, after Liesel wakes up from her nightmares. They also use paint and sandpaper to learn new word and so Liesel can be able to read faster and more accurately. This book is what inspired Liesel to start reading in the first place and it also had encouraged her to steal more books.


Another symbol is Hans accordion, it is also what helped Liesel go to sleep. Hans had been taught to play and often played loudly to the dismay of Rosa, his wife. When the Jewish Fist Fighter moved into their house, that was the first thing that Max had asked Hans if he could play it. When Hans has to leave Rosa would often take it out of its case and hold it in her arms. Another time when it was important was, when the air raids began, Hans did not bring it and he believed that that was what kept them all alive.


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Conclusion

I enjoyed reading this book because of its surprises, good story line and the small love story between the two main characters. I would rate this book 4.3 out of five stars, I liked how the book kept you into it and the characters were well presented, I enjoyed how the smaller conflicts led out to the bigger more important one for Liesel that would change her life forever. The big conflict when they house a Jewish man during World War 2 in Germany with people watching them everywhere. I did not give them five stars because the beginning was sluggish and you sort of knew what was going to happen at the end because of all of the hints as you went along in the book like for instance this was the first book out of 10 (Not the real number) that she had stolen. It did not leave as many surprises to happen in the book. The theme of the movie is that words can cause you to do bad things.