I say that it took me some time to finish The Book Thief, but I must tell you that it was Zusak's brilliance which put me off. He is far too good a writer, skillfully bringing to life the harsh details of a daily existence that goes from gut-wrenching to heart-breaking and then back again. Blow after blow is dealt to this most resilient of children who loses her brother and then her mother almost immediately after. Once her brother is buried, that interrupted train trip is resumed, and Liesel is given into foster care. She is luckier than some though, since the Hubermanns take her in. Her foster father's gentleness acts as a counter balance to his wife Rosa's bad cooking and worse temper. Hans can't, however, temper the perilous times they live in; times when books are burned, brownshirts are given license to harass Jews, and party politics leaves the Hans Hubermann without work and the means to support his family. It is a time when bombs destroy neighborhoods and snatch all that is dear; Liesel's home, her foster parents and her friend Rudy Steiner.
Although Liesel lives a long life, it is death who has the last word.