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When nine-year-old Liesel arrives outside the boxlike house of her new foster parents at 33 Himmel Street, she refuses to get out of the car. Liesel has been separated from her parents, "Kommunists", forever, and at the burial of her little brother, she steals a gravedigger's instruction manual, which she can't read. It is the beginning of her illustrious career.
In the care of the Hubermans, Liesel befriends blond-haired Rudy Steiner, a neighbour obsessed with Jesse Owens, and the mayor's wife, who hides from despair in her library. Together, Liesel and Rudy steal books - from Nazi book-burning piles, from the mayor's library, from the rich people for whom her foster mother does the ironing. In time, they take in a Jewish boxer, Max, who reads with Liesel in the basement.
By 1943, the Allied bombs are falling, and the sirens begin to wail. Liesel shares her books in the air-raid shelters. But one day in the life of Himmel Street, the wail of the sirens comes too late.
A life-changing tale of the cruel twists of fate and the coincidences on which all our lives hinge, this is also a joyous look at how books can nourish the soul. Its uplifting ending will make listeners weep.
"Zusak makes his ostensibly gloomy subject bearable in the same way Kurt Vonnegut did in Slaughterhouse-Five, with grim, darkly consoling humour." (Time)
"Zusak's playfulness with language leavens the horror and makes the theme more resonant: words can save your life....It's a measure of how successfully Zusak has humanized these characters that even though we know they are doomed, it's no less devastating when Death finally reaches them." (Publishers Weekly)
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Karen on 05-17-07
A great listen
It took me several attempts to get into this book, but it was definately worth it. I thought this was a great listen, really well paced and read by the narrator and an enchanting tale. I liked and engaged with so many of the characters in this book. I finished the story this morning on the tube - Yes I was that woman on the Metropolitan line who was sobbing - and no I wasnt having a life trauma - just finishing a remarkable and very emotional novel. This certainly comes under my 'download without delay' selection.
45 of 46 people found this review helpful
By Sandra on 08-16-08
Wartime story with a difference
I was hooked from the reading of the first few lines. The narrative from deaths point of view was warm in an unexpected way, you'll have to listen to the book to see what I mean about that one.There are amusing moments and moments that truly make you want to cry. I recently saw the paperback version of this book in the childrens section of a well known large book store and was surprised that they included it in that section considering that it teaches you how to swear in German very well , great for when they steal the sunbeds when your next on holiday ! But joking aside, a tremendous listen highly recommended
15 of 15 people found this review helpful