Set in Nazi Germany during World War II, it's a story about the have-nots. The Book Thief is technically a little girl, Liesel, who steals books (not a shock), but we learn so much about her whole street -- Himmel Street. The characters are so well developed (it is a LENGTHY book, so there is plenty of time to get to know everyone!) that I missed them in church this week, wondering what shenanigans they would get into once I got home and started reading again. Now that's a good book!
Some disclaimers: a) it's told from the viewpoint of death. Weird. You don't think about it that much, but Death does give away some critical pieces of information (evidently Death is a blabber mouth) before he actually tells the story. I, personally, liked that. You may not. b) it is also listed as a Young Adult (YA) book -- which can sometimes be for kids as young as 11 or 12. First, unless your child is VERY familiar with WWII Germany, s/he may not understand or be too into this type of literature. Also, it's very violent, as the time required, I think. I wouldn't recommend this for any younger than high school or for late middle school as part of a guided study.
If you go to the link I have for the book, you can see a video clip of an interview with author Markus Zusak. I loved hearing from him. He said once he got into writing it, he realized "It was about trying to find beautiful moments in an ugly time." I felt like that's what he does. Let's us see that a little girl considered her very difficult life to be a fairly normal childhood, playing soccer with friends in the summer and being terrorized by mean kids during the school year.
It has its slow moments, but I really liked it and found it a great (long) read with well developed characters. Hope you enjoy!
I guess this is the 2nd hard one I've mentioned reading. Do you do realistic fiction? Is there a genre you don't like? I can't do fantasy. What about you?