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The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Book cover for The Book Thief
The narrator of the book is Death. Death is omniscient. Zusak begins the book by introducing Death as a benign and sympathetic entity with a tendency to define moments by their color (for example a sky turned red after a bombing raid). Death describes his first encounter with a nine-year-old girl named Liesel Meminger in the late 1930’s in a graveyard shortly after the death of her younger brother on a train taking them to Molching, Germany, where their mother is to leave them with a foster family. It is revealed that the reason for the fostering is to distance the children from their parents’ past communist sympathies. The death of the boy forces Liesel and her mother to make a stopover for a burial. It is just after this tearful and unceremonious burial that Liesel steals her first book, The Grave Digger’s Handbook, after it is dropped in the snow by a gravedigger’s apprentice. Despite being uneducated for her age and unable to read the book, she keeps it as a final memento of her brother.