The Book Thief by Markus Zusak Essay

Best known for his book the Book Thief, Australian born author Markus Zusak has been writing for young adults since the age of seventeen(Grade Saver). Born in Melbourne, Australia to German and Austrian immigrants, Markus Zusak lived a very humble and quite life. However being the youngest of four, Markus sometimes was the forgotten child alongside his brother (“ My Life”).Growing up in a family was the oldest two siblings were idolized, led to some actions that his older brother and he got into. Some of these actions were stealing street signs, store signs and gambling at the local dog track (Underdogs). Also the two brothers got into a lot of trouble at school with other students. These actions caused Markus to not focus on his studies but focus more on being the “tough guy” in school and around the neighborhood. By doing these actions, Markus was looked upon as a bad influence to the neighborhood children (“Biography of Markus Zusak”).Being known as a bad influence, however, did not sit well with him. To deal with the title, Markus and his brother joined a fight club. Here Markus was able to start his journey of finding himself through writing. 
Inspired by The Old Man and the Sea, Markus Zusak started his writing career at the age of seventeen when he joined a fight club with his brother. Now at the age of thirty-nine, Markus Zusak has only written five books in his whole career. With his 

books brining many praises, Markus has earned numerous writing honors abroad and at home. In his home country of Australia, Markus Zusak has won the Ethel Turner Award, The Book of the Year Award , The Children’s Book of the Year Award, The Ena Noel Award, The Honor Book Award and The Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book Award as well as many others (“Markus Zusak” ). Awards given to him from other countries include: Two Michael L. Printz Awards, The Kathleen Mitchell Award, New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards, and fro Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year-Children (“Markus Zusak”).And most recently, Markus Zusak was nominated for the 2014 Edwards Award ( Zusak Tweet). He was also named the New York Times Bestselling author and has been in the number one charts for young adults in over thirty-four countries(Grade Saver).Not only has Zusak received all of these awards but his books have also been translated in over thirty-eight countries and sold over eight million copies for each book( The Book Thief: I Am the Messenger). 
Besides all of his success in writing, all of Zusak's books are based on his life experiences and his struggle to find out his “self”. Each of his main characters are represented through him personally, his struggle, and how he had dealt with it. Showing his own personal struggles as an adolescent, each of Zusak’s books have a main character represent how he has dealt with the issue of finding himself.
After joining the fight club at the age of seventeen, Markus, in between fights, was able to write down his thoughts and turn his life around. Through this, Zusak’s first book, Underdogs, was written and published. Markus writes about his life and 

the struggle his brother and he had to find out who they were and why they were that way, as well as making the family proud in this story. Mr. Zusak draws a parallel 
of the life of the main character Cameron to his own life as a young adolescent and the struggle to make their family proud (Book Addict). But not only that, Markus Zusak also juxtaposes the fighting he has done as a young adult to the fighting he has done in his mind about finding out his true identity, just like the main character does in the book. “He’s fighting Cameron Wolfe. Or is he actually fighting Cameron Wolfe? Inside him. Proving himself. To himself. I don’t know. It’s in each eye. The question. Each breath. Who’s fighting who? Each hope.” (Underdogs 237).
Seven years after Underdogs was published, Markus Zusak took a break from writing and went on a “journey” to find his identity (“Biography of Markus Zusak”).Once he completed this search, Zusak was inspired to tell his story. Thus his second book was published, I am the Messenger. Throughout the story, Markus Zusak makes the main character Ed go on a real journey and experiences the unexpected than the expected by receiving cards with written messages on them. Answering these messages, inched Ed closer and closer to his goal just like Markus has done. Although Markus Zusak did not get messages on the back of cards to answer, both of them ultimately reached their goal of “soul searching”. At the end of the book Markus Zusak puts as the last sentence “ I am not the messenger at all .I am the message” ,(I Am the Messenger 357), to show that when he was finding himself not only was he helping his self personally but others around him.
It would take four and half years for Zusak to write another book. During these four and half years, Zusak went to Germany and Austria with his parents to 

see their native lands (“Biography of Markus Zusak”). While on this trip, Zusak would listen to his parents’ stories of the bombing raids and the Jewish people walking through town. This endeavor then leads to his most recent and famous book published, The Book Thief. Throughout this story, the main character Lesiel Meminger takes books, burned in the book burning raids by Nazis soldiers, and realizes that through her reading and taking of these books she is able to develop herself and who she truly is. The Book Thief not only portrays the development of an individual but also the importance of curiosity while going through this struggle. Also, the main character in this story has an influence of himself and his parents as young adolescents (Book Addict). While being influenced by family stories, Zusak was not only able to find his self as an individual but his family roots, as well. When the book was finally published in 2006, the publisher wrote, on the book jacket, one of the reasons why Markus Zusak wrote the book. His response was “I grew up in Sydney, but when my parents told stories about their childhoods in Germany and Austria during World War II; it was like a piece of Europe entered our house. I couldn’t possibly know at the time how important those stories would be…..In 2001, I had just finished my fourth book when the idea of a book stealing girl came to me, which somehow triggered memories of what my parents talked about. I also had a strange thought that I might use Death as the narrator and write about my struggle of finding my true identity through my righting , and with those central ideas I started to work on my novel. As writers do, I begin every book knowing what it will mean something to me, but with The Book Thief I’ve been very fortunate. It’s the book that means everything to me.” (The Book Thief)

All three books written by Markus Zusak follow the same pattern of life experiences he has encountered and the struggle he has dealt with of finding out who he really is in life. Recently in an interview conducted by Mother Daughter Book Club, Markus Zusak, 35, says although that he received help from his wife and extended family, he is struggling with this issue today (Mother Daughter Book Club). He also says that if it were not for joining the fight club as young adult with his brother, he would not be in the same position that he is in today of almost reaching that goal. Through writing books about his life struggle, Markus Zusak has been able to inch closer and closer to his ultimate goal of finding himself and helping others find themselves too just like the book title I Am the Messenger.

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