The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is a moving tale of love and hope set in Germany during the years leading up to World War II. The action revolves around Liesel who is nine years old at the outset when she is sent to live with foster parents, but she is just one of the brilliantly imagined and fully-realized characters that occupy the novel. Over the course of five years, we see Liesel mature through many hard-learned lessons. Part of the magic of The Book Thief is that it is a poignant coming-of-age story set at a time when the very act of coming-of-age was under constant threat. Beyond that, Zusak ambitiously but deftly gives commentary on the horrors of Nazism as seen from within the German Empire, and the power of words to both destroy and bring healing. A powerful, absorbing read that managed to elicit out-loud laughter from me at times, and also brought me to tears.