Referred to by some as “Harry Potter and the Holocaust”, this lengthy book came highly recommended from a variety of sectors, so when I found out my library had it, I picked it up.
Narrated by the personification of death, the book tells the story of Leisle, an orphan of communist parents who is taken in as a foster child by a poor German couple living outside of Munich right at the dawn of World War II. As Liesle struggles to survive she makes many discoveries – friendship, the secret life of her loving foster father, and the wonder and power of books. As her story progresses it inevitably intertwines with the larger narratives of what is happening around her – Kristallnacht, the Hitler Youth, the Holocaust, and the devastation of World War II.
Overall I enjoyed it. The story is definitely compelling and the characters are rich. I thought that telling the story of World War II from the perspective of a poor, orphaned, German girl was helpful in that it provided a portrait of World War II that is not often explored.
While the non-linear narrative told by Death was unique it sometimes got annoying and confusing. My only other criticism would be that there was an excess of foul language, especially considering this book is from the Young Adult section.