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Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Book Thief Visited

Speaking of visits – What do you think about Death’s visitation to the living and deceased?

Obviously Liesel is a character demanding our sympathy and feelings.  Yet, she was a thief.  Was her thieving justified due to circumstances?  Is thieving ever justified or is it circumstantial morality?

The Hubermann’s give refuge to Liesel and Max.  Why?  What do Max and Liesel have in common and what does caring for them fulfill in Rosa and Hans?

One of the fascinating specifics in the book was the color of Hans’ eyes.  Death repeatedly talked about them as did Liesel.  Do you think there is significance in that?  Are you ever swallowed up by the color of someone’s eyes?  {I remember a boy in high school who had ice blue, grey eyes that were just mesmerizing yet I don’t remember his name, just his eyes! I used to think he could read my thoughts with those eyes.}

Mein Kampf plays an important role in both Max and Liesel’s alienated existence.  Has anyone read it?  I love that they painted over the pages to write their own stories.  So deliciously ironic!

Do you have a story playing around in your head like the Standover Man or The Word Shaker?  What is your story about?  How is it written and do you have illustrations?  Last year I read the letters of my neighbor’s mother.  She was the first female cardiologist in NJ.  After medical school she went to Appalachia and worked for 4 months with the family there and she recorded her daily work in letters that were mailed home to family and friends.  It was a powerful study on the surviving capabilities of the human spirit. 

The mayor’s wife, Ilsa Hermann is and empathic character throughout the book.  Her inability to dress and be present in the town was due to great loss.  She is obviously educated and loved books.  Was that part of the reason she secluded herself?  Did she see from her reading what was happening to Germany and couldn’t face that as well as the loss of her son?  Agoraphobic behavior is overcome when she visits Liesel’s home to give her the book.  Do you think she overcame the agoraphobia at the end of the book? 

We cannot forget to mention Rudy.  Just thinking of a boy imitating Jesse Owens in Nazi German makes me laugh and shudder.  Why does Rudy instantly love Liesel?  Do you believe in love at first sight? 

Hitler used words to separate Aryan from Jew.  He dehumanized the Jew to less than worthy of life.  Death says: ‘I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race – that rarely do I ever simply estimate it.’  And the final line in the book: ‘I am haunted by humans’.  How do you think, feel, or react to those statements?

Now I have gone on about the book in a very brief way for the over 500 pages that contained a great amount of information and discussion points.  Enter your comments and reactions so we can share the information and story in this book. 

Happy Reading,


  1. Well, 2nd try to weigh in on the Book Thief!
    I enjoyed another month following our Blogmaster's selection. The Book Thief held my interest once I dedicated the hours to reading, thank god for a long plane ride. I concur, Barbara, telling the story from the Soul Collector's viewpoint was pure genius.
    I want to make one point (being a history buff) that struck me in particular. I remember that Barbara mentioned verbally or on the blog somewhere that Zusak had a family connection to the Holocaust (Mother?). The depiction of Jews being marched in and out of Dachau was likely not true, Dachau was a place for primarily political prisoners (the Gas Chamber their made reference to it's lack of use)like Bonhoffer (a Lutheran). There may well have been political prisoners marched around in 1942 but most German Jews were gone by then. The camps for Jewish extermination where in the east (Poland Primarily). Why pick this fly crap out of the pepper? Because while nothing can "absolve" the

  2. German people from their allowing Anti-semitism to run its sad course, it helps "explain"(I think) how many good people could "watch" as this happened. The prisoners at Dachau were looked upon as "criminals" as were most of the people shipped off and sent away by the Nazis. Never mind that the leap to an entire group of people being conceived as criminals defy's logic. Once one associated the camps as places where people who did wrong were sent, it was somewhat easier if you saw people being marched around (which Zusack's Mom likely did) to accept it and do nothing to stop it. What I always wonder is how a country can slip under the spell of someone like Hitler in the first place. That to me is the cautionary tale. Regardless the author did a wonderful job in showing the results of mindless following a charismatic leader. I found the stories of Hitler Youth portrayed by Zusack to also be telling. The redemption for me was indeed Hans and Rosa's actions-realistically portrayed and something that too few Germans took at the time.
    All in all Barbara, great selection. I agree enough on WW II for awhile-very heavy stuff but good to remind us of Man's ability for good and evil deads.