Geoffrey Rush said it was a five handkerchief film and I think the same is most definitely true for the book. It starts off innocently enough, with a word of note from death, the impartial narrator. Death tells the tale of Liesel, a young German orphan who finds a new home in Nazi Germany and forges a strong bond with her new papa. Papa slowly coaxes her out of her shell with his accordion, cigarette rolling, and reading lessons. They start off with "The Grave Digger's Handbook," a book Liesel stole at her brother's funeral, but soon progress to other novels (the majority of which Liesel has stolen). Each novel she conquers marks a new phase in her life. As the war progresses into Germany, reading is her true salvation. It also helps her bond with the Jew hidden in their basement.
This is one of those books that will stay with you. It's haunting and poetic; Death is a fantastic narrator and his insights to the future and value of human life will astound you. It's also nice to read a book from the perspective of the "protagonist," an eleven year old German girl and member of the Hitler Youth, rather than the "victims" (not that there is ANYTHING wrong with reading about the victims, it's just nice to switch it up, I've read dozens of memoirs from survivors and other literature from the side of the oppressed).