The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak
How could I mention anyone other than Markus Zusak for 'z'? In fact on the final day of the A to Z challenge it seems pretty fitting to mention a book that's narrated by Death himself.
I only read The Book Thief after a friend of mine bought it for me for Christmas. I love historical fiction, but for the most part I stay away from fiction set during the Second World War, not only because I just don't find Modern history quite as interesting as Medieval and Early Modern history, but also because it's often just so upsetting. I love it when books bring out emotions in me, whether they make me happy, furious or bereft, but The Holocaust is something else entirely. It's a dark period of our history that should never be forgotten about, but it's so, so upsetting.
I'm so glad that I did read it, though. Like many of the books I love now I read it while I was at university and it made me cry more than once. Not just a few little tears, either, this book made me weep. What I love most about it is that it's just so different, and I don't even mean the whole 'narrated by Death' thing (though that is an interesting element!); another reason I tend to stay from WW2 fiction is because it's often quite samey, but in The Book Thief we're told the story of a little girl from Germany during the Second World War. We see Germany portrayed not as a country brimming with mini-Hitlers, but as a country who is suffering just as much as the rest of the world, perhaps even more so.
If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it.