Mark Reads ‘The Book Thief’: Chapter 6

In the sixth chapter of The Book Thief, we begin to learn what sort of life Liesel Meminger is given when she is taken in with the Hubermanns. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Book Thief.

I really did pick a bleak book to read after the Hunger Games trilogy. It doesn’t help that Doctor Who over on Mark Watches has also been pretty depressing as well, but STILL. I’m hoping this book doesn’t deal with child abuse because HELLO THAT WILL BE TOO CLOSE TO HOME.

Let’s start with some non-depressing info-dumping for chapter six, shall we?

CH. 6: GROWING UP A SAUMENSCH

I should hasten to admit, however, that there was a considerable hiatus between the first stolen book and the second. Another noteworthy point is that the first was stolen from snow and the second from fire. Not to omit that others were also given to her. All told, she owned fourteen books, but she saw her story as being made up predominantly of ten of them. Of those ten, six were stolen, one showed up at the kitchen table, two were made for her by a hidden Jew, and one was delivered by a soft, yellow-dressed afternoon.

Ok, so I definitely got a lot wrong before. So why does Liesel collect books in this manner? What is it about The Grave Digger’s Handbook that inspires her to seek out other books? I ask a lot of questions. THEY ARE RHETORICAL, FYI.

But I do get absolute confirmation that what Death is relating to us is the story taken from Liesel’s own book. I imagine I’m going to like where this is heading a lot, as it’s becoming clear that Liesel is going to finally discover books and begin her long affair with them. I mean, I can relate to that. Books helped save me while growing up. It’s what helped me feel whole, that helped create the sense of creativity and foster my own imagination in ways I’ll always appreciate. SO I DO HOPE THIS TURNS INTO A FUCK YEAH BOOKS SORT OF BOOK.

I’m getting sidetracked. Back to Liesel. As much as Zusak jumped around during the prologue, I’m glad that he settles down to introduce us to the new place that Liesel will grow up in, as well as filling in parts of her past. She arrives in her new home with the baggage of her past, both immediate and years ago. Still raw from her freak out at her brother’s funeral, she is also scarred from the small life that she has known. Her father is gone, taken away for being a Communist. I love the way Zusak describes this:

And that word. That strange word was always there somewhere, standing in the corner, watching from the dark. It wore suits, uniforms. No matter where they went, there it was, each time her father was mentioned. She could smell it and taste it. She just couldn’t spell or understand it. When she asked her mother what it meant, she was told that it wasn’t important, that she shouldn’t worry about such things. At one boardinghouse, there was a healthier woman who tried to teach the children to write, using charcoal on the wall. Liesel was tempted to ask her the meaning, but it never eventuated. One day, that woman was taken away for questioning. She didn’t come back.

It’s a world where a word can haunt, where people can disappear in just a moment’s time, unheard of ever again. What Zusak communicates well here is how these moments are so matter-of-fact to Liesel. It’s the way the world is. I wouldn’t say that it’s a form of Liesel’s ignorance or innocence or naivete. I think that even at nine years old, she’s acutely aware of the horrors around her, especially ones that force your own mother to give you up to strangers to keep you alive.

No matter how many times she was told that she was loved, there was no recognition that the proof was in the abandonment. Nothing changed the fact that she was a lost, skinny child in another foreign place, with more foreign people. Alone.

And that’s what abandonment will do to a person. It’s heartbreaking, for sure.

In the Hubermann household, things are not at all what Liesel is used to so, so even in this initial sense, she has a lot that she has to work through before she can begin to feel comfortable with these new people in her life. The first immediate difference is the swearing. Rosa has a very…imaginative tongue. Liesel’s foster mother is harsh with her words and the behavior seems second nature to her. That first night, it’s not with understanding or affection that Rosa greets her new foster child with, but a contemptuous anger. There’s no reason we’re given to explain why Rosa is like this, but given Liesel’s heartbreak and stubbornness, it’s practically the worst method Rosa could use to convince Liesel to take a bath.

In contrast, Hans is much softer-spoken. He’s gentle. His eyes are full of a cold kindness. I think that regardless of the way Rosa behaved, Liesel would never have gravitated toward her anyway. Rosa could not have replaced her mother. I mean, yes, it doesn’t help that Rosa is so mean, but given that Liesel grew up with her own mother this entire time, I can see why she might feel more of an affinity towards Hans. But I think it’s also important to note that Liesel, who barely knew her father at all before he went away, has a soft affection for his memory. It might make sense that she would seek out another father figure to comfort her.

That’s what Hans provides. Perhaps this is just the way this couple works. Hans is meek, Rosa is forceful. Either way, I loved the mental image of Liesel and Hans sitting in the growing darkness, Hans teaching his new foster daughter how to roll cigarettes. It’s a calming thought.

It seems that Hans was just a calming person in general. As Death describes it to us:

Somehow, though, and I’m sure you’ve met people like this, he was able to appear as merely part of the background, even if he was standing at the front of a line. He was always just there. Not noticeable. Not important or particularly valuable.

This sort of quiet, unassuming existence appeals to Liesel. At a time when the world is shouting at her with all its might, someone has come into her life who can fill her space with nothing but a smile and those silver, kind eyes.

I’m hoping that Rosa doesn’t merely exist as some sort of rude stereotype in the coming pages, but at this point, there is a sense that she more resembles a cartoonish concept of an authority figure than an actual character. However, I am on page thirty-four. I’ve got a lot to go.

There is some growth here, as months rapidly pass in just a few sentences. Liesel takes a bath—two weeks after she arrives. And I beginning to feel that Rosa’s crude language has less to do with her being mean and more as just her way of speaking or showing affection. Calling her a saumensch almost has a ring of care to it by the end of chapter six.

If anything, Rosa might just have come on strong. By the finish of this chapter, months after Liesel has arrived, Rosa makes no qualms about asking Liesel to call her Mama. But it’s important to note that she is “Mama Number Two.” She is not replacing anyone. She is a continuation, the next chapter in Liesel’s life.

At that moment, Hans Hubermann had just completed rolling a cigarette, having licked the paper and joined it all up. He looked over at Liesel and winked. She would have no trouble calling him Papa.

As some who so desperately wanted affection as a child, I can at least confirm this: Sometimes, all a kid wants is a little love.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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79 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Book Thief’: Chapter 6

  1. psycicflower says:

    I love Death throwing in all these little hints about the future and the past throughout the chapter but they don't really feel like forced foreshadowing, they're just part of the narrative.

    “She possessed the unique ability to aggravate almost anyone she ever met. But she did love Liesel Meminger. Her way of showing it just happened to be strange. It involved bashing her with wooden spoon and words at various intervals.”
    I see Rosa as a sort of tough love figure, for want of a better term. She doesn't really mean her insults, it's just a different way of showing affection. Lots of my family members, both immediate and extended, insult each other but it's done out of love so I never saw Rosa as being angry, just that it's her way. I love that she hugs Liesel after she has her first bath because not only is it clearly a big step for Liesel but it shows Rosa's affection underneath all that gruffness.

    “When he turned the light on in the small, callous washroom that night, Liesel observed the strangeness of her foster father's eyes. They were made of kindness, and silver. Like soft silver, melting. Liesel, upon seeing those eyes, understood that Hans Hubermann was worth a lot.”
    Hans is a wonderful contrast to Rosa and you're right that he seems to be exactly what Liesel needed. After all that Liesel has been through in such a short space of time she needs someone who's just quietly there for her and letting her takes things at her own pace. I love the image of them both sitting on the bathroom floor rolling cigarettes.

    By the end of the chapter it just feels like Liesel is happy, or at least as happy as she can be right now under the circumstances, living with the Hubermann's.

    • I love Death throwing in all these little hints about the future and the past throughout the chapter but they don't really feel like forced foreshadowing, they're just part of the narrative.
      I agree. It's been a very interesting re-read, too, because I'm sure on my first read, a lot of the foreshadowing just went over my head, but now much of it has stood out to me because I know what it's referring to. It's strange to me how Death keeps casually spoiling things to various degrees. It's as if he sees time differently, as if he can't help seeing the future and the present intermingled, and he doesn't care whether you know what's coming because that's not really the point.

      • psycicflower says:

        Agreed. I can't count the number of things I forgot as I was reading along the first time only to have them come back and punch me in the face later. Rereading now I can't believe how much I missed.
        I think it's fascinating to think of Death as having a different perception of time to us so that's why he doesn't tell the story in a completely linear fashion. Insert wibbly wobbly timey wimey quote here. I think we saw it to a certain extent in the Prologue when Death was using colours to describe all his meetings with Liesel but hints to the future can be a bit expected in some prologues so I think it stands out a bit more here in the 'main' part of the book as information is just casually thrown out there for all to see.

    • Napes says:

      someone went to hard trying to comment and be that guy to write a novel like relax

  2. SecretGirl127 says:

    "I’m hoping this book doesn’t deal with child abuse," yeah, no kidding. I don't know what's wrong with me but I tensed up with every interaction between Hans and Liesel. I'm still unsure. To many stories and bad made-for-TV movies about evil foster dad's I guess.

    "No matter how many times she was told that she was loved, there was no recognition that the proof was in the abandonment." I completely agree with this interpretation of abandonment as well as the fact that people in that position cannot see it. Especially a child.

  3. affableevil says:

    I really love Hans Hubermann. That is all :D

  4. cait0716 says:

    I think Rosa and Hans are an interesting couple. She's an unstoppable force and he's an immovable object. All her energy just sort of flows around him.

    I liked Death's comments (in the notes on Hans) that the reward for surviving one war is fighting in another. That broke my heart. Sometimes the world works in really perverse ways when you stop and look at it

  5. @ladylately says:

    I love Hans to death, but I'm very much a Rosa. Me telling you you're an ass? It's a term of endearment! Promise! >.>;

    At least I cook better than her.

    • elusivebreath says:

      Yeah, that's me too :)

    • feminerdist says:

      And me.

      My husband is like Hans, quiet and unassuming. It's like his grandparents. The man is softspoken, and the woman is the handful. I can't help but like couples like this, especially in literature.

      • trash_addict says:

        My grandparents are much the same! I definitely see more of that dynamic in older couples and find it really appealing.

  6. lindseytinsey says:

    I think really love Hans so far. He's calm, relaxed, kind and the way he winked at Liesel just makes me trust him.
    Liesel not bathing for 2 weeks I found a little gross, haha… ok very gross.

    My favourite line: "She would have no trouble calling him Papa."

    Lovely.

  7. Amanda says:

    Hans Hubermann is the best in this chapter. I really adore how he instinctively knows the method needed to calm Liesel… he's just very quiet and reassuring. And using the tobacco is a genius idea. It's methodical, rhythmical, and allows her to relax.

    In my head, he reminds me a lot of James Cromwell, especially in his role from Babe. Which, I just realized, is rather apropos considering the amount of German swine slang thrown around in that house. :D

  8. monkeybutter says:

    What, you don't want an omniscient first-person commenter like Death?

    I loved the way the word Kommunist was described, too; it's a great aside about the power of words. And even though Rosa's Saumensch, Saukerl, and Arschloch are rough and unkind, they still don't have the menace behind them that Kommunist does.

    I appreciate the way Zusak describes Rosa's "cardboard complexion" and "face decorated with constant fury," along with Hans' melting silver eyes. It's a great contrast between harsh and frictionless characteristics, just like the language of the last chapter. I love rich, sensory details.

    • enigmaticagentscully says:

      I agree, I think the way the different words are used is very interesting. I get the feeling that it all ties into the whole 'book thief' thing – words have power, and I love the image of the word 'Kommunist' as almost a physical presence in Liesel's childhood. Even though she doesn't understand what it means, she still sees the term as something with sinister connotations.
      And then there's the contrast with Rosa's swearing, where she uses the most awful words as terms of endearment.

      Love this book!

  9. tethysdust says:

    I was afraid last chapter that Liesel was going to end up with people who didn't really care about her. I'm glad Rosa and Hans seem to be good people, even if Rosa is a little aggressive! It does seem like Liesel's mother did the best thing she could have done for her daughter by giving her up. I hope that Liesel understands sometime in the future that her abandonment was an act of love.

    Also, this book teaches us insults in German! I can surprise my colleagues now! (…or on second thought, maybe that's a bad idea…)

    • enigmaticagentscully says:

      It's a shame that German sounds so similar to English, so people can generally work out the gist of what you're saying.
      :P

    • FlameRaven says:

      Haha, I was just thinking the same thing, especially since I just read Behemoth, which makes liberal use of "dummkopf", as well as English half-swears ('bum-rag' especially).

  10. Emily Crnk says:

    Beautiful.

  11. Arione says:

    I love reading books that have snippets of other languages… Especially when they’re languages I can read, it’s like knowing something the authors is keeping sort of secret, even when they translate it. If it’s a language I don’t speak, I always try to figure it out on my own before I read the translation.

  12. qwerticle says:

    As someone who adores rolling cigarettes, I really loved the image of Liesel and her new Papa sat on the floor rolling cigarette after cigarette. There's something very methodical to rolling, it has a great rhythm and I certainly use it to zone out and get away from the stress.
    There's also the bonding aspect, with Hans teaching Liesel a new skill they've been able to spend time together in a very unpressured environment. It's nice. And in World War II where cigarettes were definitely used as currency, it's a skill that could come in handy.
    Although hopefully, y'know, the nine year old won't take up smoking.

  13. ldwy says:

    Yes. The fourteen books, that it seems she treasures and had to get by any means necessary…(I know we'll learn more). It makes me look at my overflowing bookshelves and feel lucky and very privileged.

  14. mugglemomof2 says:

    I love the dynamic of this "new" family. Zusac paints the picture so well- you feel like you are there with them. <3

  15. So why does Liesel collect books in this manner? What is it about The Grave Digger’s Handbook that inspires her to seek out other books?
    It is actually the first in a fourteen-book series written by Suzanne Collins. She can't put that shit down.

  16. Annie says:

    Having read this book in German, I'm surprised at how many German words (especially insults) Zusak used in the original. I have also nothing but love for the Hubermanns.

    It's not very common, but my uncle says Saumensch a lot, btw.

  17. jujubes says:

    Rosa and Hans Hubbermann, yes most certainly a interesting couple, the cigarette roller and the potty mouth. Because I've read the book before I really loved reading this introduction to the two of them again, seeing Lisels first impressions to her "parents", especially since I know what happens in the rest of the story…I love them both! Hans is awesome and Rosa, well in my opinion she gets better.

  18. theresa1128429 says:

    I can relate with Rosa's "odd" way of showing affection. That is how all of my friends and I interact. I'm not like that as much with my daughter, but I do tease her when she falls down…
    Anyway, on to Hans. I don't think that rolling cigarettes can be relaxing, but then again I was never good at it and only did it when I wanted to smoke. I suppose it could be very relaxing to a nine year old with no nicotine cravings.
    Also, "He loved to smoke." Great line. All you ever hear about these days is that a person is addicted and/or they want to quit. I, like Hans, love to smoke. I know the consequences blah blah blah.. but I honestly just love it. No desire to quit at all.

    • qwerticle says:

      Ditto. I also love smoking. I have no desire to quit, but I do wish I had never ever started. Then I wouldn't know what I was missing.
      Rolling is relaxing… once you're good at it and you're not in desperate need of one haha. I've been very frustrated trying to roll outside clubs in wind and rain but when you have plenty of time and a warm comfy place to roll in, it's a great way to de-stress.
      I think that line about Hans made me trust him, probably because I identified with it so much. Doesn't really make sense but there you go.

  19. JessicaR says:

    I love both of the Hubermanns (Saumensch really grew on me.lol) but Hans is my second favorite character in this book. My favorite character is yet to be introduced though (Oh god, I hope this is not a spoiler.trololol) :).

  20. elusivebreath says:

    For once I'm managing to read along with Mark – well, mostly, I'm a tiny bit ahead, lol – and it makes the read so much more interesting to read the thoughts and comments of everyone. I have taken to going back and rereading the chapter after reading the reviews and comments and it really gives me a deeper understanding of the chapter, so thank you everyone <3

  21. blessthechildren says:

    Hans Huberman:
    <img src="http://daddy.typepad.com/daddyblog/images/2007/06/17/hero_dad_shirt.jpg"&gt;

    I already love his character.

  22. pennylane27 says:

    I am deeply in love with this book. I can't help but love the way it's written, the way the words flow naturally and poetically. This is why I read through to chapter eight before I even realised I had read too much.

    I saw Rosa Huberman in a Dursley-ish kind of way. The difference is that Rosa does seem to love Liesel. I guess I saw her treatment in a humorous way, like when I read Philosopher's Stone, and then when you think about it it's not humorous but appalling, and clearly I shouldn't be allowed to write because that didn't make the slightest sense. Oh well.

    • erin says:

      Haha it's true though! You read about how she's smacking Liesel all over the place and it's like "Oh, geez! SHE'S SO MEAN." But then after a while you start thinking in terms of "Oh Rosa, you silly goose! Always beating children!" >.>

      I guess sometimes there's not much you can do but laugh about it? Oh well. I do love Rosa, regardless.

  23. shortstack930 says:

    I actually know a couple just like Rosa and Hans. The mother is very loud and controlling and seems to have good intentions but has a weird and angry way of showing it. The father is very quiet and sweet and relatively unnoticable otherwise. But like Rosa and Hans, they seem to work together in a way. It's a difficult situation for poor Liesel to be in, but at least she finally has somewhat of a father figure in Hans.

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      It's seriously what my mom and dad were like, though my dad wasn't affectionate with me.

  24. zulaihaha says:

    Hans Hubermann is probably one of my favourite characters in anything, ever.
    HOW ARE YOU READING THIS A CHAPTER AT A TIME. GAH. I must have no self control, because I'm rereading and I still can't stop myself.

  25. What's so great about the the phrase "a soft, yellow-dressed afternoon" is that it's so lovely all on its own the first time you read it, and then it's even better on the re-read, when you know exactly what it's referring to.

    • I totally don't even remember what it's referring to. It's been four years! But I look forward to finding out.

      • Yay! It's fun when you get to experience something for the first time twice.

        Also: four years?! Holy crap, I remember so clearly exactly where I was during a brief phone conversation we had about the book following your surgery. I was sitting on a low wall/ledge outside of work.

  26. FishGuts says:

    i know, it just sounds really elegant and sweet
    :)

  27. zulaihaha says:

    Also,

    The human child – so much cannier at times than the stupefyingly ponderous adult.

  28. kohlrabi says:

    Yay I'm all caught up! After the first few bleak chapters this was a nice settling down. Is it awful of me that I assumed straight off that Hans would abuse her somehow? I've read and watched too many sad things, clearly. I like what death said about Hans, that he's unassuming and in the background. I can relate to that a lot, but still feel like I offer a little something to the world, even if it is just comfort to the more noticeable of those around me.

    I'm really liking the style of this book so far. It's a very different feel from the last few series I've read. And I'm really coming to like Death as a character, not only as a written character, but one I just personally find likable. Which is very strange indeed.

    Edited to add: Rosa kind of grew on me through the chapter, especially when I realized I call my cats "you little shit"( a la Dumbledore in AVPM) when they are being naughty but of course I don't mean it in a nasty way! So I see her swearing at Liesel the same.

  29. mr_bobby says:

    I fucking love this book!

    In the first few chapters, Death's little interjections kind of distracted me from the story, I think because there were so many of them. They began to grow on me with this chapter, especially the 'Kommunist' one. Just that word, by itself in the middle of the page, bolded, seems exactly like a label or an accusation. It really worked here… *chills*

  30. Hotaru-hime says:

    Hans is lovely. Very sweet, one of those old souls you meet on the road and have an instant connection.
    Rosa is like my mother, really. She swore at us in Urdu all the time and we grew up thinking of the words as commonplace rather than affectionate (although my mother used them when she was mad and/or when we were misbehaving, so it's different than Rosa in that sense) and is just a very blunt individual. Caring but blunt, matter-of-fact, "this is how I am, don't change me" sort of person. Rosa's existence to me is amusing because you find more of her than of Hans.
    I liked this chapter much better than the previous ones, probably because I felt it was structured better. I can't wait to read the next chapter with you.

  31. BradSmith5 says:

    And then there was the part where Hans' and Rosa's traits were listed as twenty-two lines of facts. Just…beautiful! If only other authors would take up this technique; we could get rid of time-wasting dialog and those bothersome "characters!"

    Seriously, why are these asterisk-laden asides here? For instance, I enjoyed this part: "She seemed to collect the words in her hand, pat them together, and hurl them across the table." Now, I don't usually like comparing actions to other actions––or footwear to juvenile porpoises––but I liked this comparison. It defines Rosa, right? So why in the world do we need the gigantic list preceding this scene TELLING me that she has a strange way of showing love!?

    And Mark, EFF YEAH, BOOKS! ;)

    • Pseudonymph says:

      "footwear to juvenile porpoises"

      I don't say this a lot, but: lol!

    • If Zusak only told instead of showing, I'd agree with your criticism. But because he does very, very strongly build his characters through their words and actions, I have no problem with the fact that Death first introduces some of them to us with his little assessment of them. It turns Death into more of a real character himself, rather than just a distant narrator who blends into the background, like a standard third-person omnicient narrator does. It makes the whole book feel more personal, like Death is speaking to us and treating us like an intimate confidant. He shares his opinions of the characters with us when he introduces them, just like people often do when they're telling you about the people and things they encountered during the course of their life.

      • BradSmith5 says:

        My problem is that Death ISN'T expressing much of his opinion in this chapter; the way he's listing these facts is just redundant nonsense. We are first shown a scene where Hans rolls cigarettes for an hour. THEN Death uses the asterisks to say "He loved to smoke. The main thing he enjoyed about smoking was the rolling." I don't feel like an intimate confidant when he does this––I feel like he's talking down to me, as if I have to be notified of every event and every important word.

        This could be Zusak's intent, however. ;)

  32. plaidpants says:

    >SO I DO HOPE THIS TURNS INTO A FUCK YEAH BOOKS SORT OF BOOK.<

    I hope so! I love reading so much. It saddens me whenever I have a conversation with my boyfriend, because he never read when younger and doesn't really enjoy reading for pleasure. I've already informed him that our future children will be reading at a young age, and I will in fact read to them.

    (I also claimed that I will read them the Harry Potter books but make them wait a year in between each book so they'll have to suffer as I did, but I probably wouldn't be able to stand that either.)

  33. potlid007 says:

    I LOVE YOU HANS. YOU ROLL THAT CIGARETTE. YOU GO GLENN COCOA.

  34. Shary says:

    SO I DO HOPE THIS TURNS INTO A FUCK YEAH BOOKS SORT OF BOOK.

    Have not even finished reading the review, but if you like/want books like that, you should totally read the Inkworld trilogy by Cornelia Funke.

    • @widerspruch says:

      This was me, btw. IntenseDebate was acting weird on the other computer, who knows.

      ANYWAY. I love, love Hans! He's so calm and caring and really the sort of fatherly figure that Liesel needs. I had my doubts with Rosa like you, Mark, but I don't think she's really mean-spirited.

    • Cam says:

      YES YES YES. Inkheart, Inkspell, Inkdeath. I have never read a series that is more "FUCK YEAH BOOKS", and I've read my copied to pieces.

  35. ffyona says:

    Love Hans. My only worry is that every time he or Liesel rolls a cigarette, I get the urge to roll one too. Here's hoping he quits and takes up jogging in the next chapter.

  36. slharrop says:

    This is the first time I haven't already read the book and I'm reading along with you. I've avoided posting, because of the risk of spoilers and yah, I'm now risk free and can post.

    I love the cadence of this book–poetic prose interliniated with sacatto interruptions. I find his writing oddly reminiscent of how people live their lives with long periods of little or no variation in the rhythm of their days interrupted abruptly with periods of joy and tragedy. Some of them great events and diasters impacting everyone, but most small and personal. Liesel's loss of her brother in particular calls to me. I lost mine, suddently, a decade ago and there is still an empty spot in my soul where he belongs.

    Rosa and Hans remind a great deal of one of my aunts and uncles. She was vibrant and blunt with admittedly less vulgarity. My eulogy for her was titled 'Expressed Love By Nagging.' Rosa vividly captures that exasperating kind of love. She is also the kind of person that where I live we describe with the phrase: "Weaned on a sour pickle." Bitter, angry, vulgar, and blunt to a fault. I can't see her not engaging in feuds with neighbors and family alike. Hans makes a sweet counterpoint a sea of calm in the tempest of their household. I can see Liesel clinging to him and the 'Papa' he represents.

    Like others, the discovery that Liesel ends with only 14 books makes me so very aware of the abundence of richness in my life with book shelves full of books (and an iPad) and a library down the street. I can't imagine living with only 14 books.

    I don't how I will manage not to glut myself with this story, but my intentions (currently good) are to read along with you.

  37. @widerspruch says:

    But it makes it even more inevitable that as readers, we gravitate toward Hans just as Liesel does.

    Indeed.

    Also yeah, Liesel has a nice ring to it :D

  38. Stephanie says:

    Damn you and your rhetorical questions. I WANT TO ANSWER THEM SO BAD!!

    *stepping away from the keyboard to avoid spoilers*

  39. potlid007 says:

    I mean, I see almost every older male character as Christoph Waltz. Is that a problem?

  40. erin says:

    You know, all through the first few chapters I was pretty annoyed that we were never given an explanation for why Death is so interested in this ordinary little girl. Why is she different? Why is such a powerful (?) being taking an interest in what happens to her? It just seemed a contrived way to have an interesting narrator tell her story.

    And then as I was brooding over my annoyance in the shower (which is where I do my best brooding) it kind of hit me: This whole time I'd been thinking of Death more as a person than a concept, with human motivations that OBVIOUSLY the author ought to explain. But it's not a person. It's just… death. And death just seems to follow Liesel. And after I came to this ~*incredibly insightful*~ conclusion, I stared at the wall in bemusement for five minutes, marveling at the poetic tragedy of it all, and apologized to Zusak for ever being annoyed with him.

    Maybe this doesn't make much sense, or maybe everyone else is reading this like "well duh. what did you think?" But I just thought I'd share my early morning thought processes with you all. o.O

  41. Jake Cocoa says:

    Hans just has to be one of my favorite characters ever. In any fandom, not just the Book Thief. He’s like… an old leather jacket: soft and comforting, but with an undeniable firmness under it all. But is it wrong of me to picture him with really spiky silver hair? O_o

  42. Meru223 says:

    Hans is the best fictional father I've ever had the pleasure of wishing was my own XD He is just so damned adorable and caring and just *HUGS FOREVER*

    Rosa sort of reminds me of myself. Minus the wooden spoon and with the addition of facepalms. It's mostly the matter of fact bluntness of her speech that makes me think "dear god it's me". And my insult of choice is usually idiot.
    I feel Rosa does do everything she does purely because that's how she is; that's her personality and it doesn't mean she loves anyone in her life any less. She's just extremely straight forward.

    Also I think my favourite character is Death because his mind thinks like my mind, constantly wandering around the environment picking up on the little things, smells, colours, words. It's comforting to know that at least Death would understand what my mind does, if no one else in my life ever understands it. XD

  43. The Hubermans are such an interesting pair to me. You have Hans who is this quiet live and let live guy and then you have Rosa who is pretty much the opposite. Yet, it's clear that they work. Maybe not perfectly, but they work. Am I the only one who keeps picturing Hans as Wilf from Doctor Who?

  44. ffyona says:

    I love rolling. For me, smoking is as much the ritual of rolling up and heading outside to the garden bench with my book as it is the actual cigarette.

    And rolling a cigarette for someone is a lovely gesture, I think. Like making a cup of tea. Sort of a polite, domestic gesture.

    I want to quit because I know that I have to for my health, but god I love smoking. It's not the nicotine, although that's certainly the addictive part of it, I just love it. Rollies are great. But yeah, I also wish I'd never started. I'd rather live entirely without that particular pleasure than now have to give it up.

    DON'T SMOKE, KIDS.

  45. trash_addict says:

    'Rolling is relaxing… once you're good at it and you're not in desperate need of one haha. '

    Ha, well, Hans won't find it too stressful now hes got a 9-year-old on the production line as well!

  46. MowerOfLorn says:

    Reading the review of this, I've realised just how much I've forgotten about this wonderful book. I want to re=read it, but I'm not quite sure where its gone off to….

    Anyways, I love how very poetic the writing is. Usually I'm not into poetry; I'm drawn to characters, and prose just lends itself more to it, and the way we're trained to over-analyse it in High School takes some of the enjoyment away. But I feel that the author of 'The Book Thief' has little trouble making his descriptions flowery and poetic, but it simply adds to the story and emphasises how different Death is from a normal narrator.

    (Also, having read a good portion of Discworld since reading this book, I'm not imaging the the Disc's Death. Its rather weird).

  47. MajorWhoaButWhy says:

    YES! As soon as I read this book the first time, I thought, "If I were to write this as a screenplay, I would not give it up to the director until he promised to cast Christoph Waltz as Hans.

  48. trash_addict says:

    Pretty much just gonna repeat what everyone else has said: at this point, I already knew I loved Hans Hubermann.

  49. NopeJustMe says:

    The description of Hans' eyes is my favourite part of the book so far. It actually makes me feel calm reading about him being calm. (And I was so, so glad when Death implied Hans would live through the war, because really, I cannot stand authors killing off my favourite characters anymore. Fred ;_;)

  50. Rivka says:

    "This is Nazi Germany at the beginning of WWII, I'm sure Death is following a lot of people around right now."

    Yes, I think that's the interesting question so far, which I look forward to exploring: why Liesel?

  51. flootzavut says:

    "Sometimes, all a kid wants is a little love."

    Amen.

  52. Kelly L. says:

    I love Hans! He just kind of quietly steps in and calms Liesel down and becomes the closest thing she has to resembling "home."

    Also, the dynamic between Rosa and Hans is just like my grandparents.. My grandma is the loud, dominant one and my grandpa is the mellow, almost obedient one. They've done this for over fifty years and I have no idea how it works, but I guess it does. The only difference is, my grandma doesn't quite swear this much. ;)

  53. @widerspruch says:

    I hadn't checked that when I said it, but I went there afterwards and yeah, it's been suggested. But really, that was my first thought when I read Mark said that. XD

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