I am late to the party, I admit it. This book has been out for a long time, won many awards, and even been turned into a film (which I plan on watching this weekend). Yet I had not read it until very recently. That is my loss, because this novel is fabulous.
Usually, one can categorize a book pretty clearly, but not in this case. Yes, Death is the narrator here and there are descriptions of souls but does that make it fantasy? Nah. It does describe the state of a small town in Germany, both from a physical and emotional standpoint during the time when the Nazis were in control, but does that make it historical fiction? Possibly, but it feels so much more than that.
The characters in this book feel alive. They breathe (metaphorically, of course), they grow, they love and yes, they die. And you feel the pain when they die. The pain for me was lessened by the character of death who seems like a really nice guy, but one who has a job he does not always enjoy.
Over the course of the novel watching the character of Liesel grow and develop, fall in love (even if she did not realize it at the time) was an absolute joy. Her Mama, who was so cold and sharp tongued, when those moments of fragility occurred, it made the character seem so damn real your heart broke at her ultimate fate. While there are many scenes in he book that I loved, one particular favorite is when Liesel woke to find her Mama sitting on the edge of her bed, holding the accordion her Papa played.
This may sound like an odd analogy but this book reminds me of another novel called The 7 Who Fled by Frederick Prokosch because the descriptions of the world in both stories are so vivid you can picture them in your mind very easily.
So, what is The Book Thief about? It is about life. How we muddle through it, our joys, our challenges and in the end, how we face our death. I cannot recommend this highly enough