In the forty-fifth and forty-sixth chapters of The Book Thief, Death decides to share a little bit about his experience in 1942, a particularly busy year for him, as Max’s health begins to rapidly decline inside 33 Himmel Street. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Book Thief.
All of this was bound to happen, wasn’t it?
the dream carrier
Featuring: our collective heartbreak
CH. 45: DEATH’S DIARY: 1942
As many asides as Death gives us that break up the narrative or give us small insights into the story at large, it’s been quite some time since he’s given us information about himself in the pages of this book. I’d forgotten a few of the things he’d shared, such as his humorous fascination with our preconceived notion of the scythe, or the black hood, or the face of a skeleton. Or the colors. Humans have colors when they die. Death also apparently looks like whatever we look like, too:
* * *A SMALL PIECE OF TRUTH* * *
I do not carry a sickle or a scythe.
I only wear a hooded black robe when it’s cold.
And I don’t have those skull-like
facial features you seem to enjoy
pinning on me from a distance. You
want to know what I truly look like?
I’ll help you out. Find yourself
a mirror while I continue.
Which is a fascinating concept to me, and I’ll ignore my desire to know more about this and just accept that Death is an entity that has nothing to do with being human as I know it, and yet seems so close to understanding and exhibiting the human condition that he feels familiar.
1942, for Death, is one of those years where, more than most times in the full picture of human history, Death has to work just a bit harder.
There were certainly some rounds to be made that year, from Poland to Russia to Africa and back again. You might argue that I make the rounds no matter what year it is, but sometimes the human race likes to crank things up a little. They increase the production of bodies and their escaping souls. A few bombs usually do the trick. Or some gas chambers, or the chitchat of faraway guns. If not of that finishes proceedings, it at least strips people of their living arrangements, and I witness the homeless everywhere. They often come after me as I wander through the streets of molested cities. They beg me to take them with me, not realizing I’m too busy as it is. “Your time will come,” I convince them, and I try not to look back. At times, I wish I could say something like, “Don’t you see I’ve already got enough on my plate?” but I never do. I complain internally as I go about my work, and some years, the souls and bodies don’t add up; they multiply.
I think it’s really interesting that Zusak uses this to frame the history of 1942, piling the deaths up in a way to express how exponentially deadly that period in human history was. He also doesn’t ignore homelessness created by the German bombs, nor does he forget about the forced diaspora of the Jews and the unwanted, scattered from their homes and forced to live on what they can, many times succumbing to death because of it. On top of that, I cannot think of anything ever that has offered up a perspective of the world through the eyes of Death, and Zusak has taken something that could have been incredibly gimmicky and made it into something valuable and ingenuous.
They say that war is death’s best friend, but I must offer you a different point of view on that one. To me, war is like the new boss who expects the impossible. He stands over your shoulder repeating one thing, incessantly: “Get it done, get it done.” So you work harder. You get the job done. The boss, however, does not thank you. He asks for more.
And this gives the sensation of the endless horror of war, the seemingly non-stop flow of death, destruction, and unhappiness that comes along with it. Yet, even in these moments of overwhelming violence, even Death can see the small, beautiful acts that still exist, despite a world that seems to inhabit none of that.
The main one comes from Liesel Meminger.
CH. 46: THE SNOWMAN
Liesel, once again, does something that is powerfully sweet and brilliant for Max Vendenburg, this time giving him (and the rest of the family) a Christmas present that, while only physically lasting a few hours, is the best they’ll probably ever see.
On Christmas Eve, Liesel brought down a double handful of snow as a present for Max. “Close your eyes,” she’d said. “Hold out your hands.” As soon as the snow was transferred, Max shivered and laughed, but he still didn’t open his eyes. He only gave the snow a quick taste, allowing it to sink into his lips.
“Is this today’s weather report?”
Liesel stood next to him.
Gently, she touched his arm.
He raised it again to his mouth. “Thanks, Liesel.”
It was the beginning of the greatest Christmas ever. Little food. No presents. But there was a snowman in their basement.
Liesel’s actions just seem so pure in their joy and empathy, and I think that’s what hits me so hard. This is just so natural for Liesel. She doesn’t seem to put an inordinate amount of thought into any of this. She just understands what can cheer Max up.
So…the snowball scene. It’s beautiful. Again, another moment I would love to see on film, though I know at this point that adapting this for the screen is seriously impossible. It’s so fantastic to see the entire group, Rosa especially, act so childish and immature and I mean that entirely as a compliment, too. Instead of dissecting any of that, though, I was interested to see what any of your feelings and experiences are regarding snow. The only reason I’m bringing this up is because I just met someone this month who has never touched snow, and I had forgotten that it’s not a thing for everyone. I spent over seven years in Boise, Idaho, and we had a white Christmas every year, so it was a bit disconcerting to move to Southern California and then not see snow again for TWENTY YEARS. Twenty years holy god. In fact, I haven’t had a white Christmas since I was eight, though I got really, really close in 2009 when I got stuck in Boston during that gigantic blizzard on the east coast that year. (FUCK YEAH FOR AN EXTENDED VACATION IN BOSTON.)
That’s when I realized that, since it had been so long since I spent longer than a few hours in snow, I did not have the same relationship with snow as most people do. People I meet are generally not that excited about it, though they fall on one side of the spectrum in regards to why that is. They either dislike it because they have no experience with it and it’s too cold and you have to wear special clothes and none of this is fun to them, OR they’ve grown up their whole lives with snow and it’s nothing special or to be excited about because it’s just another geographical nuisance. Obviously, people can exist all over this spectrum, but I certainly fall on the side of I LOVE SNOW AT ALL TIMES. I didn’t grow up with it to a point that it would ever become a nuisance to my job or my commute or anything like that. I stopped living around it when I was eight, and when you’re eight, snow is magical Jesus flakes from the sky and that’s about as in-depth as I got in those days. Snowmen! Sleds! Snow forts! Snowball fights! That magical crunch that ever step sends up to your ears, the way it transforms every city block into some ridiculous postcard, the way an untouched snow drift just looks so perfect and smooth…I loved all those things about snow.
I only saw snow twice before that blizzard in 2009, both times in extremely short spurts, so while the city of Boston and New York both groaned and sighed at the news that it would start snowing that winter, my eyes widened in anticipation. WAS I GOING TO PLAY IN THE SNOW? SURELY THIS WOULD HAPPEN AND MY FIRST VACATION EVER AS AN ADULT WOULD INVOLVE SNOW. RIGHT? RIGHT? RIGHT?????
Ok, so seriously, I know this has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH NAZI GERMANY IN 1942 and might tonally be the most irritating shift in my review ever, but I really need to tell this story because:
1) It is actually relevant to why I love the snowball scene in The Book Thief.
2) There is not one second of it that is depressing and I SWEAR MY LIFE IS NOT ENDLESS DOOM AND FUCKERY, YOU ALL.
3) It involves one of the poorest decisions I have ever made in my entire life and yet, if I had a TARDIS, I would go back just to cross my own time stream to tell my past self to CONTINUE ON THIS PATH TO FOOLISH RIGHTEOUSNESS BECAUSE IT IS ABSOLUTE PERFECTION
Ok, let’s establish a few things that are absolutely integral to the story:
- It is mid-December in 2009. I cannot be arsed to be date specific, despite that a brief trip to Google could easily tell me what day this was.
- I was working at Buzznet at the time (HEY REMEMBER THAT PLACE? NO? GOOD) and after having been there three and a half years, this was the very first proper vacation I’d ever been allowed to take in my entire time there. OH GOD WORK PLACE OPPRESSION.
- I spent four days in Boston, three or four in New York City, and then this story takes place when I return to Boston for a couple days to attend a show at the Middle East, which was sort of the whole point of this trip because Fake Problems, Thursday, and the Dillinger Escape Plan were on a bill. THE SAME BILL. Seriously, one of the best shows I have ever been to, but NOT THE POINT.
- I was staying at my friend Adam’s pad and he lived right down the street from Massachusetts General Hospital. THIS IS INTEGRAL TO THE ENTIRE STORY SO DO NOT FORGET THIS. A map will also be provided for those who are not familiar with this.
I took the MBTA train out to Central Square, fully aware that earlier in the day, as I was onboard a Megabus from NYC to Boston, we had just missed the cutoff for bus departures before the snowstorm that was supposed to bury the East Coast was going to arrive. I wasn’t necessarily underdressed as I stepped off the subway; I’ve always been able to tolerate cold weather far more than warm weather, but, as you’ll soon learn, I should have planned my outing to Cambridge a lot better than I did.
The show was wonderful. You don’t need a review of it because OTHER THINGS ARE MORE IMPORTANT. Covered in sweat, I grabbed my jackets (I do intend for this to be plural to show I was at least moderately prepared for snow) from the coat check and headed outside to find the ground covered in quite a few inches of snow, delicate flakes plunging from the strangest colored sky I’d ever seen in my life, thick clouds hanging ominously above me, reflecting back the lights of downtown Boston. I did what any person who has not been in falling snow since 1991 does: I opened my mouth, letting the snow melt on my tongue, and I began stomping around in the small drifts that had already formed in the three hours I’d been inside the club.
Now, I swear I am not doing this to allow names to drop out of my mouth, but it’s also very important to the story. After the show, I hung out with the guys from Thursday on their bus. I knew them from touring with them at the beginning of 2009 for an editorial feature for Buzznet, and I hadn’t seen them in quite some time. After an hour of so of getting warmed up in the bus, both Dillinger and Thursday (who were sharing the bus) prepared to leave to head to their next destination. And this is why it’s important to include this: knowing that it was below freezing outside and knowing that it was still snowing, Geoff from Thursday asked if he could get the bus driver to drop me off at where I was staying so I wouldn’t have to walk home. “It’s totally not a big deal,” he assured me. “You’re on the way.”
In a moment lacking in all pragmatism, beaming with anticipation and joy, I refused. Nah, it’s totally ok, I announced with an adventurous tone. My friend just lives on the other side of the bridge. I’ll just walk there. It’ll only take twenty minutes or so!
“Are you sure? It’s snowing pretty hard.”
I spelled it out for him. I haven’t been in a snowstorm since I was eight. I’ll be cool.
And with that, I exited the warm, toasty bus, wrapped my scarf around my face, and pulled the hood on my waterproof jacket tight over my head, heading down Green Street towards the next block. I’d checked Google Maps on my iPhone before leaving, and I knew that I had to take the shortcut over to Main Street from Massachusetts so that I would head in the right direction. It seemed simple enough, since it wasn’t that far until the split in the road.
For some reason, when I had looked at the map just moments earlier, the small walkway to Main St was a few blocks down Massachusetts. Allow me to correct this past memory right now and show you what I actually did:
As you can see, I turned up Sidney St and, instead of continuing straight up to Main, I turned right on Massachusetts, wrongly believing that the split was blocks ahead of me. Also:
If you’ve already Googled the location of the Middle East Club and pulled out to see where this route is going to take me, I assume that you are shaking your head after having facepalmed. You’ve realized the critical error I’ve made on the night of one of the worst blizzards Boston has received in recent years. If you’ve not figured this out, here’s what I should have done:
Very short and direct, right? Here’s what actually happened:
But merely showing you this map does nothing, because an extra mile added to a walk probably seems like nothing to you. And if you’re a walker like I am, a mile is merely a warm up. It’s peanuts. It’s a nice twenty minutes more to a pleasant walk. And I agree! It’s really not that far at all!
As I plugged along Massachusetts Ave, I realized I was right next to M.I.T. I never had aspirations to attend the university, but it’s fucking M.I.T. You can’t help but feel like you’re important just by walking by it. So I stopped to stomp in a few more growing snow drifts, drifts I should have noticed were now at least a foot higher than the ones outside of the Middle East, but it was snow. Guys, IT WAS FUCKING SNOWING. RIGHT THEN. IT WAS FALLING FROM THE SKY AND EVERYTHING WAS BEAUTIFUL AND NOTHING HURT.
It was just past eleven PM at night and the lights along the street didn’t seem to illuminate my way very well, and I noticed that the snow was falling so thickly that it appeared to actually be blocking the light out. Even though there were bright and proper streetlights lining the avenue, I could only see a few hundred feet in front of me. However, I was in such a state of euphoria about experiencing such ridiculous weather on my last night in Boston that I didn’t care. This was a once in a lifetime thing for me, since Los Angeles certainly wasn’t going to get weather like this any time soon.
As I strutted proudly down the block, I found that Charles River opened up before me, quicker than I expected, and I figured that I must have been so enamored with the snow that I had just walked the correct direction a lot faster than I had allotted myself. I ran up to the edge and looked out into the river, noticing that it had frozen over with a thick block of ice. I snooped around until I found a palm-sized stone and tossed it joyously down to the river and literally giggled as the rock BOUNCED OFF THE SURFACE, not even making a slight crack. OH, THIS IS SO AWESOME, I thought.
A few cars passed every couple minutes, but I was alone on that bridge right then, alone in my foolishness and alone in my abject ecstasy. Sure, it was cold and a bit windy, but I was in Boston, Massachusetts, and I was in the middle of a snowstorm. IT WAS SNOWING!
I decided I wanted to cross over to the eastern side of the bridge to see if there was anything else going on in the river on that side, because that’s how my brain works. I checked for traffic (empty bridge) and quickly crossed over the road (ice covered) to make it to the other side (no difference from the west side.)
Well, there was a huge difference, but nothing that had to do with the weather or the frozen river or the falling snow. There was a bridge. There was a bridge on this side.
I turned to face where I came from and did not see a bridge in the distance like I should have. I pulled out my phone and removed a glove to try and turn it on, but the screen wouldn’t swipe. This had happened to me once before, in New York, on a night where it was below freezing, so my mind went to the obvious explanation: my iPhone had probably frozen. WHICH IS AWESOME. I still don’t even know if they can do that, BUT THAT’S MY STORY.
Perhaps I’m just disoriented, I thought to myself. You’ll probably get to the other side of the bridge and see the hospital and you’ll be fine. Right?
I quickened my pace, my visibility still pretty shit due to the downpour of flurries. I could make out lights at the other end of the bridge, but I’ve always had pour eyesight at night, and the storm was not making it any better. But I didn’t let the confusion damper my mood. I was in a blizzard. I WAS IN A BLIZZARD. Surely this couldn’t be all that bad, right?
As I neared the end of the bridge, it was pretty obvious I’d missed my turn, that I was on the Massachusetts Ave bridge and not the Longfellow Bridge, which would have taken me to within a couple minutes of where I was staying. But the Longfellow Bridge wasn’t that far! It looked like it was just a ten minute walk!
My perception is fun. Generally, I tend to have a fantastic sense of direction, rarely getting lost and able to navigate new cities without much trouble at all. I’ve been nicknamed MarkQuest by friends and sometimes, people will call me specifically to ask for directions, sometimes even in cities I’ve never been to. (I LOVE MAPS, Y’ALL. I REALLY DO.) That night, however, I seemed to have lost all bearing, all sense of which direct was east or south, and I got lost. I got really lost.
But it wasn’t so bad! As I crossed to the other side of the Charles River and started heading up through Beacon Hill to the West End, I was loving the journey. That particular neighborhood was quiet. No one was out walking around like I was, and almost no car seemed to be passing me. I quickly understood that I was in an upscale neighborhood and knew that I shouldn’t make too much of a fuss walking around, since I was an out-of-state brown dude walking through a neighborhood because he was “lost.” I MEAN, LET’S NOT KID OURSELVES, AMIRITE? I was fresh for the picking!
This is not where this story is going, though. The silent houses and driveways stared out at me, most of them covered with nearly two feet of snow. I stuck to the sidewalks, or at least where I thought the sidewalk was, since the snow was rapidly covering up the evidence of the nighttime walks of people who’d traipsed through this neighborhood. I could feel the brisky, chilly air on my cheeks, which burned from the cold, and I simply let myself enjoy the quiet solitude of the street. People were asleep and they’d wake up to drifts and piles and they’d get out their shovels while plows drove down main thoroughfares to clear out the way for traffic, and for them, snow was something in their way, something they expected every year around this time, and schedules would be adjusted and moved to accommodate for the change in surroundings.
I didn’t check my phone to see where I was; every other block, I’d look to my left and I’d see the Charles River looming quietly out in the near distance, and I knew that as long as I kept that on my left side, I was fine. My boots crunched with every step and I kept turning back and smiling at the defined path I was leaving behind me. I was here, those steps told the world. And then the world would cover them up in just a few minutes, my story only temporarily left in the path behind my back.
I came upon a large, wide driveway. At the time, I believed it was a driveway, heading to a large building on Storrow Drive, while I plowed my way down Beacon St. At the end of this “driveway,” I saw a smooth embankment of sorts, created by the wind blowing the snow into a drift that was at three feet high. Knowing in my heart that I wasn’t that far from the West End, I jogged to the other side of the driveway and leapt into the air, planting both of my feet directly into the snow drift. I knew I wouldn’t get another chance to do this before morning, since most of the snow would be shoveled out of the way.
Except it wasn’t a driveway. It was a street. The snow was so thick at this part of the neighborhood that everything blended together, so much so that it was nearly impossible to tell where one corner ended and the next began. My feet, however, found that corner, as they plunged below the snow and landed directly into the gutter, drowning in about half a foot of icy water.
The effect was instantaneous, as I fell over dramatically, yelping to absolutely no one, plunging face first into the snow in front of me. I scrambled on hands and knees a foot or two before standing upright, my breath spilling out of my mouth and condensing rapidly before me.
FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK WHY DID I DO THAT! I screamed out loud. FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK, THAT WAS SO AWFUL, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU.
I could feel this prickly, needle-like sensation all over my foot, especially on the top part of it, and I just started running. I don’t know why. It made no sense to run, but in my head, it would get me to my friend’s house that much quicker. My socks felt like they’d frozen to the soles of my feet and block after block passed by and each one looked exactly the same as the last one. It was like I’d been dropped into a perpetually repeating neighborhood and I was recreating the Sisyphian myth, but I literally didn’t even have a reason to be pushing my own rock up the hill.
And I burst out of Beacon St. on to a park. A park that I’d never seen. A park that could not have been anywhere near my friend’s house.
OH, WHAT THE FUCK, I thought. What have I done? One of these streets had to have a familiar name. I was following Beacon St, so I couldn’t have gone too far in the wrong direction, right? But one…two…three blocks later, I don’t recognize SHIT. Just as I am starting to develop an alternate reality in my head where the police find my body frozen to the sidewalk in the worst pair of boots known to man, my scarf twisting off like a flat noose, I see CHARLES ST. Charles St!!! My friend lives off of Charles St, OH MY GOD, I AM GOING TO SURVIVE.
I started imagining things I don’t even actually like. Like bubble baths and singing Christmas carols with strangers around an open fire or jetting myself into the sun, anything that involved heat and would make my feet stop feeling like they were going to freeze off. As I was thinking quite hard about furnaces and microwaves and hugs from teddy bears, a car honked at me and I nearly peed myself in fright. I turned to my left to discover the brilliant, beautiful sight of a Boston cab alongside the curb. I think I tried to yell thanks as I opened the door, but all that came out was, TRAFGHWGAF, which isn’t even a word in any language that I know of.
I managed to spit out CHARLES ST AND BLOSSOM while I curled up in the back seat, my teeth chattering, laughing at how absolutely foolish I had been that night, not realizing that the driver probably was terrified of the man in his car that’s shivering and laughing in the fetal position in his taxi. But seriously, DID NOT CARE. For a four minute taxi ride, I passed the driver a cold twenty (THE BILL WAS LITERALLY COLD, I HAD NEVER HAD THAT HAPPEN BEFORE) and scrambled out of the car, sprinting to the front door.
My friend Adam had given me his spare key card for his building and I struggled with my wallet, having to remove my gloves to even get the card out, and then I slapped the off-white piece of plastic against the black box that opened the door.
Each time I put the card in front of the box, the door would click like it was supposed to, but it wouldn’t open. Was it locked after a certain hour? Did the card become demagnetized or something? MARK THIS ISN’T A HOTEL, I thought, and I continued to hit the black box with the card.
Click. Click. Click. Click. Click.
WHAT THE FUCK! I screamed at the door. OPEN OPEN OPEN OPEN OPEN.
No luck. I pulled out my phone, but it wouldn’t turn it. APPARENTLY IT HAD FROZEN ITSELF OFF, which has to be some feature that Apple should remove from all future phones. I couldn’t call Adam and I was stuck outside. I paced from one side of the entry way to the other. Surely there was something I could do besides waiting outside on one of the coldest nights I’ve ever experienced, hoping someone would come down.
I looked to the right of the door and facepalmed so hard it actually hurt. There was an electronic call box, its green light taunting me, as if it was saying, “I was here the whole time. LOL.” I rushed to the box and read the scrolling words.
PLEASE ENTER THE THREE DIGIT APARTMENT NUMBER TO DIAL A SPECIFIC RESIDENT. HIT THE # SOUND TO CALL.
Oh, sweet! I could definitely do this. I entered his apartment number, hit pound, and heard the comforting sound of the dial tone. As the phone rang, it stopped suddenly. Hello? I said. Adam, it’s Mark.
Silence. A squelch of static. Silence.
Adam? Are you there?
Squelch. A voice, just for a half second, then silence.
OH MY GOD ADAM, IT’S MARK, I’M STUCK OUTSIDE, PLEASE COME GET ME, MY FEET ARE GOING TO FREEZE OFF, PLEASE TELL ME YOU CAN HEAR ME, I DON’T WANT TO DIE OUT HERE BECAUSE THAT WOULD BE REALLY EMBARASSING IF I—
Click. Silence. The message scrolls again. Did I dial the wrong apartment? Was the call box broken too? I placed my hands on the glass door and peered inside. No one at the security desk, no one in the lobby. I turned around and didn’t see anyone in the courtyard walking around. I was completely alone.
Turning back to the door, I peeked in again and noticed that an elevator was on its way down. It has to be Adam! I thought. It has to be. Even if it’s not, if I can just get inside the building, I won’t die from exposure in West End. And that was a success to me.
I think I started jumping up and down like a puppy when I saw Adam, clad in pajamas, come walking out of the elevator. I saw him smile and hit the button next to the door that opened it manually.
The door didn’t budge. I watched him hit the button. One. Two. Three. Four times.
Click. Click. Click. Click.
What’s going on, Adam? Why isn’t it opening???
“I don’t know! It’s supposed to! Try the card again.”
Obediently tapped the card to the black box.
As Adam continued to press the button on the inside methodically, I checked to see if there was some sort of lock that was engaged by trying to pry apart the sliding doors. When they wouldn’t move and I was just about to give up and let nature take my body, I looked up at the top of the door, right along where it sat in the track.
Ice. The entire outside frame of the door was COATED IN ICE. I yelled at Adam, pointing up. THERE’S ICE KEEPING THE DOOR SHUT!!! I CAN SEE IT!!
“WHY DO YOU SOUND SO HAPPY!!!”
It was an identifiable problem to me. I sacrificed a library card to get inside, using it to break the ice around the door jamb, and then they magically parted as they should. Feeling like a wintery Moses, I raced inside and let me tell you, Readers, that shower I took that night was like being hugged by every puppy that has ever existed. If puppies could hug.
The point of all of this is that even against my own sense of comfort, there’s a joy I experience entirely related to snow. Just the mere sight of it can send me into a tizzy of laughter and giggling, and that’s why I just spent like 3,500 words telling you about the terrible decisions I make on a regular basis because SNOW IS REALLY WONDERFUL. I am now, of course, realizing that I took a possibly inopportune moment during the course of The Book Thief to tell this story because everything from here on out is FUCKING DEPRESSING.
Unfortunately, that night signaled a sever downslide in Max’s health. The early signs were innocent enough, and typical. Constant coldness. Swimming hands. Increased visions of boxing with the Führer. It was only when he couldn’t warm up after his push-ups and sit-ups that it truly began to worry him. As close to the fire as he sat, he could not raise himself to any degree of approximate health. Day by day, his weight began to stumble off him. His exercise regimen faltered and fell apart, with his cheek against the surly basement floor.
There’s no mention about what actually makes Max sick anywhere in this chapter, but it’s almost surprising that he hasn’t gotten sick already. It’s not until mid-February that the rest of the household can’t ignore his condition anymore, as he collapses near the fireplace, causing the rest of the family to (understandably) freak out.
Rosa takes charge of the moment, though, and I love what she says to Liesel in her bedroom after putting Max in her bed:
She stepped closer, afraid of the answer. “Is he alive?”
The bun nodded.
Rosa turned then and said something with great assurance. “Now listen to me, Liesel. I didn’t take this man into my house to watch him die. Understand?”
It’s such a succinct statement, but it speaks volumes to Rosa’s mentality throughout all this. When she took Max in (or, rather, agreed to it), she was agreeing to taking care of him as well, and it’s such a wonderfully selfless attitude to have. Thinking back, even if she was harsh with Liesel in the beginning, she was exactly the same way. It was her brand of “tough love,” I suppose, but it’s love nonetheless.
That night, Liesel sleeps on Max’s old mattress in her parents’ room, where she hears Rosa vocalize her concerns about the snow that Liesel brought in back in December, proposing it was that that got Max sick.
Papa was more philosophical. “Rosa, it started with Adolf.”
It’s interesting how the two of them go with what they know. Rosa’s always been the more practical one, while Hans falls more on the side of being poetic like that. Either way, it ultimately doesn’t matter to Liesel, who now gets it into her head that she made Max sick.
“Why did I have to bring all that snow down?” she asked. “It started all of this, didn’t it, Papa?” She clenched her hands, as if to pray. “Why did I have to build that snowman?”
Papa, to his enduring credit, was adamant. “Liesel,” he said, you had to.”
Ugh, HOW DOES HE ALWAYS KNOW THE RIGHT THING TO SAY? I get the feeling that he might impart some of this on Liesel, inspiring her to write so that she can have the right thing to say when she needs to.
For hours, she sat with him as he shivered and slept.
“Don’t die,” she whispered. “Please, Max, just don’t die.”
He was the second snowman to be melting away before her eyes, only this one was different. It was a paradox.
The colder he became, the more he melted.
God, I hate ending at this moment, because I’m completely worried that Max is going to die, and I really don’t want to read about that. It’s going to destroy Liesel. But I have to stop because I’m rapidly approaching 6,000 words and SERIOUSLY, I HAVE TO STOP.