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7a language Arts November 14, 2011


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Cassie Xin

Mrs.Scott

7A Language Arts

November 14, 2011


The Story of Liesel Meminger
In the novel The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak, Liesel Meminger, a girl who loses her family, enters a world she never expected before. Her life changes as she faces many hardships, especially when a Jew enters her life in Nazi, Germany during World War II. Slowly but surely, she turns into a book thief. Liesel learns to make friends, keep secrets, steal, adapt, as well as escape from death. Then, everything crashes down on her; the only thing that could save her is words

Liesel loses her father when she was young, and now, at the age of nine, she is separated from her mother. On the way to the Hubermann's, Liesel’s foster parents, her little brother dies. They buried him in snow, where Liesel steals her first book, The Grave Digger’s Hand book.

Liesel is tortured by nightmares every night, of her dead brother, his eyes staring blankly at nothing. Once when Liesel had wet her bed, her father came, found the grave diggers handbook, and said, “ ‘is this yours?’ ‘Yes, papa.’ ‘Do you want to read it?’ Again ‘yes papa’ A tired smile. Metallic eyes, melting. ‘Well we’d better read it then’”

(64 Zusak).

Liesel has lesson with her father in the basement every night learning from the book she treasures.

Liesel meets new kids and becomes best friends with her neighbor Rudy Steiner. Liesel starts out in a class with people younger and smaller than her, because she is very new to reading. But after many weeks of learning with her father, Liesel catches up to her age class, with Rudy Steiner as her class mate. Although she caught up, she was the worst reader in her class, there was no way she could have compared with the other students in her class. One day, the class had to read individually. Liesel was made fun because she could not read.

The second book Liesel stole was from a fire. Adolf Hitler had ordered that everything that had to do with Jews were to be burned. After the fire, people shoveled up the ashes. As they reduced the amount of grey dust, Liesel saw three books. She only managed to take one. The Shoulder Shrug

As days passed, Liesel’s reading and writing skills increased. She also earns a job. She would help her mother with the washing, and one of the houses she goes to is the mayor’s house. One day when she was picking up the washing from the mayor’s house, but instead of having the washing ready for Liesel to take away, the mayor’s wife invites her into her own little library. It was like a dream come true. She instantly fell in love with the sight. From that day on, when Liesel would go pick up the washing, she would pick up a book from the shelf and start reading. Meanwhile Liesel was participating in a group who steals food from farms, side by side with Rudy. They joined, learned and mastered the skill.

Just when Liesel’s life was improving, someone enters her home; someone she didn’t know, a stranger.

“‘Now listen, Liesel. Papa’s going to tell you something today.’ This was serious- she didn’t even say saumensch.” (Zusak 201)

Liesel’s mother had been very serious that morning, and the situation was very serious indeed.

“Liesel if you tell anybody about the man up there, we will all be in big trouble.” He walked the fine line of scaring her into oblivion and soothing her enough to keep her calm. He fed her the sentences and watched with his metallic” eyes. Desperation and placidity. “At the very least, /mama and I will be taken away.” Hans was clearly worried that he was on the verge of frightening her too much but he calculated the risk, preferring to err on the side of too much fear rather than not enough. The girl’s compliance had to be an absolute, immutable fact. (Zusak 203)


Although Liesel was very frightened like her papa thought, she understood how important it was to keep this a secret.

For three days Max Vandenburg; the Jew, laid in his bed. Liesel would watch over him. But after those days, Max wakes up. Liesel finds out that they have a lot in common and they become friends quickly. Everyday Liesel would bring the newspaper and tell Max the weather that day. Everything was going well! At least for now.

The day when Liesel truly earns her name is when she stole her third book. That afternoon, Rudy and Liesel visited the Mayor’s wife’s library. This time, they weren’t picking up the washing or borrowing a book, she was stealing one. On her way home, the name was given to her

“ ‘Good bye, saumensch.’ He laughed. ‘Good night, book thief.’” (Zusak 292)

Those were the words of Rudy Steiner. She loved the name; nothing could’ve fit her better.

Life on Himmel Street so far was wonderful, nothing exciting ever happened. Until one day, bombing on Himmel Street occurred. Everyone piled into the basement of Liesel’s neighbor. Not only was it a tight fit, but there was screaming, crying kids, parents trying to calm down their children but failed, everything was in chaos. Liesel knew what to do. She took out her book, flipped to the first page, and read the first word. Soon enough, everyone was silent; listening to the words that were read bit his girl. The bombing stopped and no one was hurt. But the next time, they weren’t that lucky

Many terrible events occurred during these few days. Liesel’s father was taken to war. Max went to hiding. Liesel had just lost one of her dear friends and her father who she loved and missed so much. And after that, things us were not the same. Liesel would not have anyone to read to in the basement, she could not tell Max the weather and bring him newspapers anymore. Life on Himmel Street darkened.

Liesel had thought that she would never see Max or her father anymore, but she did. Her father came home with a broken leg. He told Rosa and Liesel about the accident and how he was supposed to die, but thankfully he was lucky. That day Liesel’s papa had switched seats with a man, and in that seat, their truck had crashed and that poor guy had been destroyed. As days turned into weeks, Liesel continued to search for Max everyday, but still no Max. Liesel wanted so bad to see his face again to share there dreams and solve crosswords together. But Max did not come back, At least not yet.

Everyone was a victim of death in the third bombing, all except Liesel. It happened at midnight. Everyone was sleeping in their beds. As death visited everybody. Liesel survived only because she was writing in the basement and fell asleep.

Liesel lost everything; her family, friends, home. She was back where she started. But she did gain one thing. Friend. Later on, she finds Max, the person she longed to see for ages, and finally he came. Together they move on in life. They both lived through the most painful life that no one should ever have to experience twice

Through out the book, Liesel changes and adapts to her surroundings. At the beginning she was a lonely dark gloomy girl, at the end, she learns to makes friends, read, write, and steals books. Liesel also writes a biography about her life on Himmel Street, That book was called, Book Thief.

Although Liesel lived through a painful life, she survived and continued on, not letting death get to her until she was satisfied.

“I have hated words and I had loved them, and I hope I have made them right”. (Zusak 528)

Those were Liesel’s last words


Works Cited

Zusak, Markus. The Book Thief. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006. Print.


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