How might one best describe the mood of Markus Zusak's novel The Book Thief?

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lhc | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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The mood, or overall feeling of the novel, is established right from the very beginning, when the narrator introduces himself as "Death" and provides a helpful overview of his life's work:  collecting souls from the dead, none of whom normally interest him at all.  However, on one occasion, his curiousity gets the better of him when he encounters the eventful and often dangerous life of one Liesel Meminger. 

While a novel opening with a narrator named Death, set in Nazi Germany during World War II, will of necessity probably not be real heavy on the laughs, it is nonetheless the story of a survivor, and as such, the mood, while always serious, does not necessarily require a tragic ending.  There is plenty of tragedy, of course, in The Book Thief, but the novel ends with a hopeful note of optimism.  Liesel learns some important lessons about her ability to write the truth in the face of Hitler's evil propaganda machine, saying "I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right," and the reader is also able to infer that Liesel will marry one day and manage to find happiness in life despite all of the heartbreak she has witnessed.


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