It's a small story, Death admits, a simple story. It's the story of a girl who stole books. Some were deliberate, others accidents, others crimes of opportunity. But there's no denying that the girl was a book thief.
During World War II, Liesel is sent to live in the German countryside with a foster family, the Hubermanns. They live on Himmel Street, a slum named after Heaven. And slowly Himmel Street becomes Liesel's heaven as she makes friends with Rudy, a boy with lemon-colored hair, Max, a Jewish fist-fighter taking shelter in the Hubermanns' basement, the mayor's frail, reclusive, book-loving wife, and most of all her new parents.
It's weird, I'll tell you that right now. I mean, it's narrated by Death. But it's weird in this surreal way that comes across, in the end, as just brilliant. I read the entire book in one day, although devoured might be a more appropriate verb.
There's not a lot of surprises. Death basically spoils the ending in the first few pages. But what plot there is the reader can't help but be emotionally invested in. And if you're anything like me, you will end up crying before Death is through.
I was more emotionally invested in some of these characters than I've been in any characters for months. I felt like I knew these people.
I think the most appropriate word would be surreal. The story is told with a child's innocence and Death's cynicism, which sometimes blend into the same thing. The description is unique, even bizarre, but in a weirdly beautiful way.
End Result: five stars. A really excellent book. Read it.