A Reader posted a review at 2010-10-28 07:54:41.
Death narrates the story of Liesel Meminger, AKA the book thief. Death first encounters Liesel when her younger brother dies while they are on the way to live with foster parents. Liesel steals her first book, The Gravedigger's Handbook, at her brother's funeral (even though she can't read). Her foster father, Hans, uses the book to teach Liesel to read.
The Book Thief is set during the Holocaust, so Death is definitely feeling overworked. Liesel steals more books and forms close relationships with the people around her, especially Hans, her foster father, Max, a Jew hiding in her basement, and Rudy, a blond boy who admires Jesse Owens. Not every German in the book is a Nazi and Zusak brings out the beauty and the horror of humanity in its many forms.
Death jumps around and interrupts himself, which makes the beginning of the book a bit confusing. However, this book is absolutely beautiful and heartbreaking and a must-read for older teens and adults. The descriptive language is gorgeous and original. Take, for example, this description of a bonfire of banned books: "The orange flames waved at the crowd as paper and print dissolved inside them. Burning words were torn from their sentences."
Just reread this for book club and liked it even better the second time.