'It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.'
Death (as in, the cloaked guy who collects souls) is the narrator of The Book Thief . Death usually doesn't get caught up in the lives of humans, but every now and then there is a human story that can't escape his attention. Young Liesel Merninger's is one such story. Liesel is orphaned and is sent to live with foster parents Hans and Rosa Huberman. The backdrop of the story is Nazi Germany; a poor street in Munich. The story is Liesel's childhood... thieving books, stealing apples, football in the street, young love... oh, and the young Jew that Liesel's foster family is hiding in their basement.
I struggle to summarise this book; I've really never read anything like it. Even though I really enjoyed the second half of the book, I found it slow to start and difficult to get into. On the other hand: beautiful writing, rich and complex characters that come alive off the pages, a history lesson disguised as fiction, actual tears, and a gripping conclusion. Its account of life in a German town in 1939 entranced me... you read about this time in history, and it's just so inhumane that it could definitely pass as fiction, but it's not. It's hard to comprehend. It's horrible. But... strangely enriching. To understand. It's humbling.
If you're a keen reader and you are prepared to wade through the beginning of the story, you should give this one a go. I'm sure you'll be grateful for the journey.