Jewish Values: Book Thief, The

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553 p.
Death is the omnipresent commentator in this compelling novel set in Germany during World War II. Genial as he muses on human existence, Death is sometimes frightened at the extent of human cruelty. Germany under Hitler was the epicenter of cruelty, as shown through several years in the life of a German child, the "book thief," her foster family, friends, and the town near Munich where she lives. The style is cryptic and allusive, studded with lists, single, stand-alone sentences and several illustrated stories written within the story. Liesel's love for her foster father, the Jew that they hide in their basement, and her friend, Rudy are at the dramatic center and it is remarkable that in a story set in such a horrendous time and rife with so much cruelty, there could be so much love present, between people for one another, and for books and words, which have the power, in Death's words, to be "so damning and brilliant." These "good German" characters, who are reminiscent of those in Ursula Hegi's Stones From the River, are earthy, flawed, and unforgettable. And while Death (always) has the final word, it is to say "I am haunted by humans." For high school and up and not be be missed! Winner of the first Association of Jewish Libraries Teen Book Award, given in 2007.
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