Amazing language, rich characters, original narration, poignant subject mater and a fierce lesson in morality are just some of the reasons why The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is one of the most critically acclaimed novels for young adults in the last five years. Interestingly enough, these same attributes make it very hard for children and teens, the story’s supposed target audience, to get all that the critics claim they should from the book.
The front and back covers of the book are littered with praise from major newspapers and publications, as are several pages inside. The list of honors and awards the book has won are printed in a smaller font, just to fit them all onto a single page together. Inside the back cover, the publisher even includes a special study guide for teacher’s to use with their students.
It seems as though most everyone has destined the novel for legendary status, but I would like to pose two simple questions: Do young readers understand this book? Do they even like it?