The Book Thief (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

— Random House Kids

Liesel Meminger is a nine-year-old German girl when her brother dies and she is sent to live with a foster family. Set in Germany from 1939 to 1943, this is a story about the power of words for good-- like a girl who steals books and reads them to make herself and others feel better-- and for evil-- like hateful man who used words to gather his own hateful army and destroy whatever or whomever he desired. It is a story about the duality of humanity, about the constant coexistence and codependency of light and dark. Told in a gripping narrative by Death itself, this is a story you won't soon forget, and will read again and again. It is a young adult book, but Zusak manages to avoid sugarcoating while also bringing humor and triumph to such a horrific and tragic time in history. The Book Thief not only stands up to rereading, but gets better every time. — Paige Mushaw

This book made me cry. That hasn’t happened since Anne Frank’s Diary. This time, death wasn’t a plot event, it was the story’s narrator. — Bonnie Winchester

On the top of my list for the decade. Superbly written. The metaphors leave you gaping, the story opens your heart, the characters are your friends. Powerfully compelling...everything a novel should be! — Chris Morrow

A hauntingly cinematic portrayal of a young girl's story in the days of Nazi Germany. When Liesel's foster family hides a runaway Jew in their basement, her world becomes entangled with questions of loss and her own mysterious past. Brilliantly written and overflowing with powerful imagery, it reads almost like a lucid dream told by a narrowing narrator - this book is not to be missed. Read it - it might be life changing! — Ramsay Eyre



The extraordinary, beloved novel about the ability of books to feed the soul even in the darkest of times.

When Death has a story to tell, you listen.

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement. 

In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger, has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.
“The kind of book that can be life-changing.” —The New York Times
“Deserves a place on the same shelf with The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank.” —USA Today


About the Author

Markus Zusak is the internationally bestselling author of six novels, including The Book Thief and most recently, Bridge of Clay. His work is translated into more than forty languages, and has spent more than a decade on the New York Times bestseller list, establishing Zusak as one of the most successful authors to come out of Australia.

All of Zusak’s books – including earlier titles, The UnderdogFighting Ruben WolfeWhen Dogs Cry (also titled Getting the Girl), and The Messenger (or I am the Messenger) – have been awarded numerous honors around the world, ranging from literary prizes to readers choice awards to prizes voted on by booksellers.

In 2013, The Book Thief was made into a major motion picture, and in 2018 was voted one of America’s all-time favorite books, achieving the 14th position on the PBS Great American Read. Also in 2018, Bridge of Clay was selected as a best book of the year in publications ranging from Entertainment Weekly to the Wall Street Journal. 

Markus Zusak grew up in Sydney, Australia, and still lives there with his wife and two children.

Praise For…

“Brilliant and hugely ambitious…Some will argue that a book so difficult and sad may not be appropriate for teenage readers…Adults will probably like it (this one did), but it’s a great young-adult novel…It’s the kind of book that can be life-changing, because without ever denying the essential amorality and randomness of the natural order, The Book Thief offers us a believable hard-won hope…The hope we see in Liesel is unassailable, the kind you can hang on to in the midst of poverty and war and violence. Young readers need such alternatives to ideological rigidity, and such explorations of how stories matter. And so, come to think of it, do adults.” -New York Times, May 14, 2006

"The Book Thief is unsettling and unsentimental, yet ultimately poetic. Its grimness and tragedy run through the reader's mind like a black-and-white movie, bereft of the colors of life. Zusak may not have lived under Nazi domination, but The Book Thief deserves a place on the same shelf with The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank and Elie Wiesel's Night. It seems poised to become a classic."
- USA Today

"Zusak doesn’t sugarcoat anything, but he makes his ostensibly gloomy subject bearable the same way Kurt Vonnegut did in Slaughterhouse-Five: with grim, darkly consoling humor.”
- Time Magazine

"Elegant, philosophical and moving...Beautiful and important."
- Kirkus Reviews, Starred
"This hefty volume is an achievement...a challenging book in both length
and subject..."
- Publisher's Weekly, Starred

"One of the most highly anticipated young-adult books in years."
- The Wall Street Journal

"Exquisitely written and memorably populated, Zusak's poignant tribute to words, survival, and their curiously inevitable entwinement is a tour de force to be not just read but inhabited."
- The Horn Book Magazine, Starred

"An extraordinary narrative."
- School Library Journal, Starred

"The Book Thief will be appreciated for Mr. Zusak's audacity, also on display in his earlier I Am the Messenger. It will be widely read and admired because it tells a story in which books become treasures. And because there's no arguing with a sentiment like that."
- New York Times

Product Details
ISBN: 9780375842207
ISBN-10: 0375842209
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 11th, 2007
Pages: 608
Language: English