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"The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak

At the end of The Return of the King, I sat in the movie theater and sobbed. Loud, embarrassing sobs.

I loved the movies that much. See, each summer when I was a teen I'd re-read each of the books in The Lord of the Rings trilogy (and Little Women, hoping each time Jo would change her mind and say yes to Laurie), so the books meant a lot to me and I was blown away by how well the movies turned out.  Walking out of the theater, I vowed never to see another movie again (until the next Harry Potter movie came out).

Right now I feel I can never read another book. Not after reading The Book Thief. I got to the last few pages and just sobbed.

The book, as many of you probably know, is about a young girl (the titular book thief) and her family in a small German town during World War II. I have read many World War II and holocaust novels. This book, narrated by Death, is the most human. Ostensibly, it's about words: how reading and writing can change us, and how words can be used to create and to destroy. But what you will remember after reading the book is the people.

Zusak paints thousands of pictures with his words. Lemon-haired boys. Cardboard-featured foster mothers. A man with hair like feathers. Reading this book, you will become invested in these characters. Death skips around a bit, tells endings before beginnings, and lets you know he will come for most of the characters eventually. But it's all good. Zusak, through Death, keeps you reading.

I picked this book because my son has to read it this summer for a class he's taking next year at school. I'm so glad I did.


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