The story follows a young German girl, Liesel Meminger who is living with foster parents in Germany during World War II. Liesel goes to live with the Hubermann family for the duration of the war during which time she earns her nickname of "the book thief" as she survives the war by "stealing" books from wherever she can. Liesel's book stealing days start at the very beginning of the book where she steals The Gravedigger's Handbook at her brother's funeral. At this point in time Liesel does not know how to read, so why she stole the book was a mystery to all... but in the end she does learn how to read and reading ends up being what saves her life.
Liesel gets teased a lot because she really had no formal education so her foster "Papa" spends a lot of time teaching her to read by reading The Gravedigger's Handbook and eventually Liesel really learns how to read on her own. She continues to steal books throughout the novel... from a book burning done by the Nazis, from the mayor's wife's library... from wherever she can get them. She does have a few books of her own that were given to her as gifts... from her foster parents and one special book from Max, the Jewish man the Hubermanns hid in their basement.
I really enjoyed this book because it gives you a look at Nazi Germany from the perspective of a little German girl who doesn't completely know what is going on. She has an idea of what is going on, but doesn't seem like she fully grasps it. By the end of the book it is evident that Liesel is very wise for her age and lived through a lot. She ended up basically losing everyone who was important to her in her life, but somehow she manages to survive with the help of all of her books. It is amazing how she found comfort in the books... I don't think she would have survived the war like she did without them.
Overall I really enjoyed this book. Despite having a hard time getting into it the first few chapters, once I was engrossed in it, it was hard to stop reading. I also liked that the book was set up in a sort of grouping of short stories so it made it easier to put down because I would just read a section at a time. I would definitely recommend reading this if you haven't already done so! Now to finally see the movie!
As always, today I am thankful the time that I have to be able to read like this. Reading has always been one of my favorite hobbies and I am so grateful that I am able to carve out a little time every day for reading. Sure it may not be much time, but even if it is only 20 minutes I am grateful to have those 20 minutes where I can just lose myself in a book and forget what is going on in the world.