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  • Location: Munich, Germany

The Book Thief

The Book Thief

Why a Booktrail?

WW2: Death is the narrator of this story. It’s also a fascinating insight into one of the darkest periods of history and of the human emotions which still flourished.

  • ISBN: 978-0552773898
  • Genre: Fiction

What you need to know before your trail

Liesel is only 9 years old when she is taken to live with a foster family in Himmel Street, Molching, a (fictional) village just outside Munich.

Liesel’s real parents have been taken to a concentration camp – for this is war time in Germany during The Third Reich. Liesel and her brother were supposed to be saved but her brother sadly dies on the journey – it is during this funeral that Liesel steals her first book – a gravediggers’s manual which she uses to teach herself to read.

But reading, and sharing new knowledge can be dangerous in Germany. One day a visitor from the past comes calling… and Liesel’s world changes.

Travel Guide

Germany

Although Molching is fictional there is, however, a city called Olching, which happened to also be next to the concentration camp of Dachau. This could be the inspiration behind the novel and the bombing mentioned.

Living in Molching, Liesel sees her chance to steal many more books – books that are deemed dangerous by the German authorities and so are burned. When she discovers a hidden library in a house, she finds a new world.

Liesel lives with her family on Himmel Street – Himmel = Heaven

“Whoever named Himmel Street certainly had a healthy sense of irony. Not that it was a living hell. It wasn’t. But it sure as hell wasn’t heaven either.”

The backdrop of this book is the dreadful fear of waiting – waiting to see if that knock on the door that everyone dreads – which all the jews dread will come. The fear of not being able to life in peace and the sight of German soldiers marching down the streets. The people being taken away on trains like cattle…

The overriding and charming part of the book comes in the form of Liesel who is called a book thief of the title for stealing or as she calls it rescuing books which are likely to be burned by the Nazis.

There was something black and rectangular lodged in the snow. Only the girl saw it. She bent down and picked it up and held it firmly in her fingers. The book had silver writing on it.

The background of the war evokes, fear, restraint and helplessness. But most of all it shows hope and the strength of the human spirit.

Booktrailer Review

Susan:

An interesting narrator in Death. Never read a book narrated like this but it brings a unique perspective to a story about the suffering that the war brought to so many people. It sends shivers down your spine to think of death of having a conscience and feelings and seeing suffering from his point of view. Very sad and very moving. Film version also good but book is so much better – the style, the pictures, the unique way the book is set out – all very nicely done.

I had never read a book written in the unique way in which the Book Thief is. It’s like sitting in a theatre, Death standing stage left narrating the action unfolding in life in Molching. The book bonfires actually made me shiver and the general disregard for anything the Germans thought might educate or show people the lies behind their nazism was banned and burned. Seeing Liesel learn to read, her word boards on the basement walls, and the stories she and the visitor from the past come to draw is simply charming!

The words are poetry, the musical rhythm lyrical and the words carefully crafted to fully explore the feelings, raw emotions and environment of the horror of World War 2.

Read the book and see the film. A unique and heartbreaking story – uniquely written and uniquely unforgettable.

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