It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will be busier still.
By her brother’s graveside, Liesel’s life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger’s Handbook, left behind there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordian-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever there are books to be found.
But these are dangerous times. When Liesel’s foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel’s world is both opened up, and closed down.
This one started off slow and I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy it as much as all the positive reviews I had seen. Spoiler alert I ended up absolutely adoring this book. The writing and overall story were amazing and just the type of setting that makes a book end up being my favorite.
The story is about a little girl named Liesel who has lost her brother and her mother takes her to her new foster in Munich. She grows to love reading with Hans her foster father teaching her how to read. Hans is such a sweet man. He encourages Liesel to read and to love others.
You see this family come together as one on himmell. They laugh, cry, get angry at the world together. They live through seeing what horror the Nazis inflicted upon the Jews at that time. When they hide a Jew in their basement, their strengths are tested as they have to keep him safe from the Nazis while also keeping themselves safe.
Max is a fantastic character. I don’t think he gets enough notice. He depends on the hubermans and their kindness to keep him feed and alive while the Nazis are checking and rounding up Jews. He is such a kind person.
The story does revolve around world war 2 and the Nazis. There are a few lines from nazi characters being anti-Jew, so I recommend skipping if you are not comfortable with that.
I loved Liesel and Rudy’s relationship the most. They were best friends and partners in crime. He was the boy next door. I wish we could have seen them together more.
There is such a massive amount of characters in this book that you can’t help but come to love. Liesel will win you over as well as Rudy and Hans. You will be rooting for them in their best moments as well as their worst.
There were two aspects I really loved in this book.
One being the apprentice of books and words. What they mean, the story’s they tell. Books become an essential way for Liesel to hold on to her brother and others around her. She steals books so that she can read more and learn words and what they mean.
Two the story is narrated by death. Death is the observer and tells you what happens and the events happening on himmell street. He also talks so graciously about the souls he carries off after they have passed. Having death narrate the story added a unique spin to the whole book.
Overall I love this book with my whole heart. I don’t think I will ever find one that even remotely equals this one. I hope you get to pick this one up and enjoy it as much as I did.