Title: The Book Thief
Author: Markus Zusak
Length: 550 pages
Genre: juvenile/historical fiction
Plot Basics: An unexpected narrator tells the story of Liesel Meminger. Liesel is sent to foster parents outside of Munich just before World War II begins. Her new life is tough, but she finds a secret pleasure in stealing books and the struggle to learn how to read them. She establishes a precious relationship with her accordion-playing foster father and with the young Jewish man they decide to hide in their basement.
Banter Points: The narrator (Word Nerd doesn't want to give it away... even though the book jacket does) is the most amazing voice to tell this story. Word Nerd supposes that Zusak could have picked a different POV, but had he done that, the story would not have had the emotional punch it did.
Zusak, Word Nerd thinks, is one of the rising-est new authors out there. His two latest books (Book Thief and I Am the Messenger) both have been nominated for and are winning awards. His writing is fresh and snappy and he doesn't shy away from his books having a meaning to them.
Bummer Points: Because this book is labeled as a kid's book, a lot of adults are sadly going to probably walk right past it.
Word Nerd recommendation: Don't be put off by the length , it doesn't feel like 550 pages while reading it because the story keeps moving along. Don't be put off that this book is shelved in the juvenile section either. It's a great book for anybody... and if you've got kids of the 8-13 range or so, read it to them (or with them) and talk about this history that happened in World War II. Oh, and have a box of Kleenex handy at the end.