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As the crowd arrived in full, things, of course, had changed. Apart from everything else, the book thief wanted desperately to go back to the basement, to write. THE BOOK THIEF By MARKUS ZUSAK Table of Contents Title Page Dedication PROLOGUE DEATH AND CHOCOLATE BESIDE THE RAILWA. The Book Thief. View PDF. Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book book | Fiction | ANZ → Picador Books. US → Knopf. UK → Doubleday.
In hindsight, I see it so obviously on her face. Rudy shrugged. In the spiteful stakes, I should al Page 26 and Eventually, Liesel Meminger walked Page 18 and Which brings me to my next point. Relief was short-lived.
The sirens. The cuckoo shrieks in the radio. All too late. Within minutes, mounds of concrete and earth were stacked and piled. The streets were ruptured veins. Blood streamed till it was dried on the road, and the bodies were stuck there, like driftwood after the flood. They were glued down, every last one of them.
A packet of souls. Was it fate? Is that what glued them down like that? Of course not. Lets not be stupid. It probably had more to do with the hurled bombs, thrown down by humans hiding in the clouds. Yes, the sky was now a devastating, home-cooked red. The small German town had been flung apart one more time. Snowflakes of ash fell so lovelily you were tempted to stretch out your tongue to catch them, taste them.
Only, they would have scorched your lips. They would have cooked your mouth. Clearly, I see it. I was just about to leave when I found her kneeling there.
A mountain range of rubble was written, designed, erected around her. She was clutching at a book.
Apart from everything else, the book thief wanted desperately to go back to the basement, to write, or to read through her story one last time. In hindsight, I see it so obviously on her face. She was dying for it the safety of it, the home of itbut she could not move. Also, the basement didnt even exist anymore. It was part of the mangled landscape.
Please, again, I ask you to believe me. I wanted to stop. To crouch down. I wanted to say: Im sorry, child. But that is not allowed.
I did not crouch down. I did not speak. Instead, I watched her awhile. When she was able to move, I followed her. Her book was stepped on several times as the cleanup began, and although orders were given only to clear the mess of concrete, the girls most precious item was thrown aboard a garbage truck, at which point I was compelled. I climbed aboard and took it in my hand, not realizing that I would keep it and view it several thousand times over the years.
I would watch the places where we intersect, and marvel at what the girl saw and how she survived. That is the best I can do watch it fall into line with everything else I spectated during that time.
When I recollect her, I see a long list of colors, but its the three in which I saw her in the flesh that resonate the most. Sometimes I manage to float far above those three moments. I hang suspended, until a septic truth bleeds toward clarity. Thats when I see them formulate. They fall on top of each other. The scribbled signature black, onto the blinding global white, onto the thick soupy red.
Yes, often, I am reminded of her, and in one of my vast array of pockets, I have kept her story to retell. It is one of the small legion I carry, each one extraordinary in its own right.
Each one an attempt. Here it is. One of a handful. The Book Thief. If you feel like it, come with me. I will tell you a story. Ill show you something. That last time. That red sky. How does a book thief end up kneeling and howling and flanked by a man-made heap of ridiculous, greasy, cooked-up rubble?
Years earlier, the start was snow. The time had come. For one. It was packed with humans. A six-year-old boy died in the third carriage. The book thief and her brother were traveling down toward Munich, where they would soon be given over to foster parents. We now know, of course, that the boy didnt make it. Almost an inspired spurt. And soon afternothing. When the coughing stopped, there was nothing but the nothingness of life moving on with a shuffle, or a near-silent twitch.
A suddenness found its way onto his lips then, which were a corroded brown color and peeling, like old paint. In desperate need of redoing. Their mother was asleep. I entered the train. My feet stepped through the cluttered aisle and my palm was over his mouth in an instant.
No one noticed. The train galloped on. Except the girl. With one eye open, one still in a dream, the book thiefalso known as Liesel Memingercould see without question that her younger brother, Werner, was now sideways and dead.
His blue eyes stared at the floor. Seeing nothing. Prior to waking up, the book thief was dreaming about the Fhrer, Adolf Hitler. In the dream, she was attending a rally at which he spoke, looking at the skull-colored part in his hair and the perfect square of his mustache. She was listening contentedly to the torrent of words spilling from his mouth. His sentences glowed in the light. In a quieter moment, he actually crouched down and smiled at her.
She returned the smile and said, Guten Tag, Herr Fhrer. Wie gehts dir. She hadnt learned to speak too well, or even to read, as she had rarely frequented school. The reason for that she would find out in due course. Just as the Fhrer was about to reply, she woke up. It was January She was nine years old, soon to be ten.
Her brother was dead. One eye open. One still in a dream.
It would be better for a complete dream, I think, but I really have no control over that. The second eye jumped awake and she caught me out, no doubt about it. It was exactly when I knelt down and extracted his soul, holding it limply in my swollen arms.
He warmed up soon after, but when I picked him up originally, the boys spirit was soft and cold, like ice cream. He started melting in my arms. Then warming up completely.
For Liesel Meminger, there was the imprisoned stiffness of movement and the staggered onslaught of thoughts. Es stimmt nicht.
This isnt happening. And the shaking. Why do they always shake them? Yes, I know, I know, I assume it has something to do with instinct. To stem the flow of truth. Her heart at that point was slippery and hot, and loud, so loud so loud. Stupidly, I stayed. I watched.
Next, her mother. She woke her up with the same distraught shake. If you cant imagine it, think clumsy silence. Think bits and pieces of floating despair. And drowning in a train. Snow had been falling consistently, and the service to Munich was forced to stop due to faulty track work. There was a woman wailing. A girl stood numbly next to her. In panic, the mother opened the door. She climbed down into the snow, holding the small body. What could the girl do but follow? As youve been informed, two guards also exited the train.
They discussed and argued over what to do. The situation was unsavory to say the least. It was eventually decided that all three of them should be taken to the next township and left there to sort things out.
This time, the train limped through the snowed-in country. It hobbled in and stopped. They stepped onto the platform, the body in her mothers arms. They stood. The boy was getting heavy. Liesel had no idea where she was. All was white, and as they remained at the station, she could only stare at the faded lettering of the sign in front of her. For Liesel, the town was nameless, and it was there that her brother, Werner, was buried two days later.
Witnesses included a priest and two shivering grave diggers. When it came down to it, one of them called the shots. The other did what he was told. The question is, what if the other is a lot more than one? Mistakes, mistakes, its all I seem capable of at times. For two days, I went about my business. I traveled the globe as always, handing souls to the conveyor belt of eternity. I watched them trundle passively on. Several times, I warned myself that I should keep a good distance from the burial of Liesel Memingers brother.
I did not heed my advice. From miles away, as I approached, I could already see the small group of humans standing frigidly among the wasteland of snow. The cemetery welcomed me like a friend, and soon, I was with them.
I bowed my head. Standing to Liesels left, the grave diggers were rubbing their hands together and whining about the snow and the current digging conditions. So hard getting through all the ice, and so forth. One of them couldnt have been more than fourteen. An apprentice. When he walked away, after a few dozen paces, a black book fell innocuously from his coat pocket without his knowledge. A few minutes later, Liesels mother started leaving with the priest. She was thanking him for his performance of the ceremony.
The girl, however, stayed. Her knees entered the ground. Her moment had arrived. Still in disbelief, she started to dig. He couldnt be dead. He couldnt Within seconds, snow was carved into her skin.
Frozen blood was cracked across her hands. Somewhere in all the snow, she could see her broken heart, in two pieces. Each half was glowing, and beating under all that white. She realized her mother had come back for her only when she felt the boniness of a hand on her shoulder.
She was being dragged away. A warm scream filled her throat. There was something black and rectangular lodged in the snow. Only the girl saw it. She bent down and picked it up and held it firmly in her fingers. The book had silver writing on it. They held hands. A final, soaking farewell was let go of, and they turned and left the cemetery, looking back several times. As for me, I remained a few moments longer. I waved.
No one waved back. Mother and daughter vacated the cemetery and made their way toward the next train to Munich. Both were skinny and pale. Both had sores on their lips. Liesel noticed it in the dirty, fogged-up window of the train when. In the written words of the book thief herself, the journey continued like everything had happened.
When the train pulled into the Bahnhof in Munich, the passengers slid out as if from a torn package. There were people of every stature, but among them, the poor were the most easily recognized. The impoverished always try to keep moving, as if relocating might help.
They ignore the reality that a new version of the same old problem will be waiting at the end of the tripthe relative you cringe to kiss. I think her mother knew this quite well. She wasnt delivering her children to the higher echelons of Munich, but a foster home had apparently been found, and if nothing else, the new family could at least feed the girl and the boy a little better, and educate them properly.
The boy. Liesel was sure her mother carried the memory of him, slung over her shoulder. She dropped him. She saw his feet and legs and body slap the platform. How could that woman walk? How could she move? Thats the sort of thing Ill never know, or comprehendwhat humans are capable of. She picked him up and continued walking, the girl clinging now to her side.
Authorities were met and questions of lateness and the boy raised their vulnerable heads. Liesel remained in the corner of the small, dusty office as her mother sat with clenched thoughts on a very hard chair. There was the chaos of goodbye.
It was a goodbye that was wet, with the girls head buried into the. There had been some more dragging. Quite a way beyond the outskirts of Munich, there was a town called Molching, said best by the likes of you and me as Molking.
Thats where they were taking her, to a street by the name of Himmel. Whoever named Himmel Street certainly had a healthy sense of irony. Not that it was a living hell. It wasnt. But it sure as hell wasnt heaven, either.
Regardless, Liesels foster parents were waiting. The Hubermanns. Theyd been expecting a girl and a boy and would be paid a small allowance for having them.
Nobody wanted to be the one to tell Rosa Hubermann that the boy didnt survive the trip. In fact, no one ever really wanted to tell her anything. As far as dispositions go, hers wasnt really enviable, although she had a good record with foster kids in the past. Apparently, shed straightened a few out. For Liesel, it was a ride in a car. Shed never been in one before. There was the constant rise and fall of her stomach, and the futile hopes that theyd lose their way or change their minds.
Among it all, her thoughts couldnt help turning toward her mother, back at the Bahnhof, waiting to leave again. Bundled up in that useless coat. Shed be eating her nails, waiting for the train. The platform would be long and uncomfortablea slice of cold ce-. Would she keep an eye out for the approximate burial site of her son on the return trip? Or would sleep be too heavy? The car moved on, with Liesel dreading the last, lethal turn.
The day was gray, the color of Europe. Curtains of rain were drawn around the car.
Nearly there. The foster care lady, Frau Heinrich, turned around and smiled. Dein neues Heim. Your new home. Liesel made a clear circle on the dribbled glass and looked out.
There is murky snow spread out like carpet. There is concrete, empty hat-stand trees, and gray air. A man was also in the car. He remained with the girl while Frau Heinrich disappeared inside. He never spoke. Liesel assumed he was there to make sure she wouldnt run away or to force her inside if she gave them any trouble.
Later, however, when the trouble did start, he simply sat there and watched. Perhaps he was only the last resort, the final solution. After a few minutes, a very tall man came out.
Hans Hubermann, Liesels foster father. On one side of him was the medium-height Frau Heinrich. On the other was the squat shape of Rosa Hubermann, who looked like a small wardrobe with a coat thrown over it.
There was a distinct waddle to her walk. Almost cute, if it wasnt for her face, which was like creased-up cardboard and annoyed, as if she was merely tolerating all of it.
Her husband walked straight, with a cigarette smoldering between his fingers. He rolled his own. The fact was this: Liesel would not get out of the car. Was ist los mit dem Kind? Rosa Hubermann inquired.
She said it again. Hans had nodded. As is often the case with humans, w. Again, Himmel Street was a trail of. Saucer, you're staying here. It was decided. By everyone but the.
She had gray hair. The eyes were da. The man was dead. Just give him fiv. He left. He stood and walked out the kitchen.
It was Kurt who spoke. Unfortunately, her sermon was cut s. Leave me now. I bet if there was a. Like an anchor, it pulled her forwa. Each man leaned back. They could al. Relief was short-lived. It stirred. That was where The Word Shaker itse.
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