The Book Thief was like a really good friend that you haven't seen for ages. When you get back together, you just talk and talk and talk and feel so good inside because so much has happened. But, then when someone asks you "How is so-and-so?" you can't even begin to tell them because there is so much and it's tiring and your mind feels like exploding.
The Book Thief has a lot of subplots. The heroine, Liesel, is living with a foster family that took her in when her real family's lives were in danger. Homegirl has this weird habit of stealing books even though she can't read. However, Liesel's foster father comforts her when she has nightmares about what has happened to her real family by teaching her to read. Literacy saves lives.
The foster family has another secret...they are hiding a Jewish man in their basement. The family is terrified that their secret will be discovered, but they develop a strong friendship with the man and their moral compass triumphs over their fear. Liesel and the man become very good friends, which, if I had one gripe with the book it would be that the relationship between Liesel and Max was a little bit off. Off in the sense that I was uncomfortable that a young girl was spending so much time alone in a basement with an adult male who was not related to her.
Other story lines involve Liesel and her childhood crush, Liesel stealing books from the mayor's home, Liesel getting involved in a band of misfits, and a bombing that destroys a village. Let's just say the book ends with a boom.
The story is so gripping because the entire time you know that tragedy is just one step away from poor Liesel. After all, the narrator of the story is Death. Yet, there's more happy than sad in the story and even the tragedy is somewhat uplifting because of the way that people lead their lives.
4/5 or 8/10 stars.