Mark Reads ‘The Book Thief’: Chapters 43-44

In the forty-third and forty-fourth chapters of The Book Thief, we learn how Rudy comes to be physically and mentally harmed by the world around him, and how he ends up in a river with a floating book. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Book Thief.

So here’s the thing about Rudy Steiner and Death: despite having been spoiled about his death, I’m now starting to see why that spoiler is not at all as disruptive as it may have initially seemed. I think a lot of us who love reading enjoy the journey the most, and sometimes when a moment of finality twists the plot in a direction like this, where someone dies, that’s generally not the moment we return to in our thoughts when we think about the book again. For me, I’ll return to the moments of shenaniganry between Liesel and Rudy. I’ll return to the moment when Rudy doesn’t hesitate to leap into the freezing cold river to save Liesel’s book, uncaring about his own safety. Death even said it: How we get to Rudy’s death is invariably far more interesting to me. I’m much more fascinated by the machinations of action and behavior that lead to where we eventually end up, even if, by the end of section five, it leaves me feeling heartbroken for Rudy.

Calling Rudy “reckless,” as I have done in the past few reviews, simplifies his actions and his motivations a bit too much for me, and it took these two chapters for me to get a much fuller picture of Rudy Steiner. In a way, as well, “reckless” is an understatement; he’s more destructive at times than anything else. But even that also seems far too simplistic as well. Rudy’s fiercely loyal, to his own fault at times, and he lets his heart rule his actions instead of shooting for practicality. In that sense, I completely relate to him, as I’m someone who has the tendency to do what I feel is right, even if it is at my own expense. Throughout these two chapters, we see Rudy’s moral force clash with a world that rejects what he thinks is right.


I think we can easily see three examples of Rudy acting against pragmatic logic in order to do something that’s right for himself or for someone else. While I’ve been increasingly worried about Rudy’s theft getting the better of him, I do understand that he’s largely motivated by hunger and poverty.

Rudy is caught relatively quickly one afternoon when he tries to steal the largest potato at Mamer’s grocery. Like the moment when Rudy tells Liesel he needs a “win” in his life, the vulnerability in his voice saddens me, as I feel Rudy thinks he’s expected to be as tough as he can at all times.

The grocer held Rudy in one hand and the potato in the other. He called out the dreaded word to his wife. “Polizei.”

“No,” Rudy begged, “please.” He would later tell Liesel later on that he was not the slightest bit afraid, but his heart was certainly bursting at that moment, I’m sure. “Not the police. Please, not the police.”

“Polizei.” Mamer remained unmoved as the boy wriggled and fought with the air.

I believed while reading this that this was the moment that would propel Rudy to be in the position that would lead to his death, but, instead, I was pleasantly surprised by the display of empathy that happens after this. But not from Mamer, incidentally, who seems bent on making an example out of Rudy. No, it’s the people in the shop who not only confirm to Mamer that Rudy is indeed poor, but lie and say his family is actually much larger than it is.

Rudy had to hold back a smile, though he wasn’t in the clear yet. At least he had the teacher lying now. He’d somehow managed to add three more children to the Steiner family.

“Often, he comes to school without breakfast,” and the crowd of women was conferring again. It was like a coat of paint on the situation, adding a little extra potency and atmosphere.

“So that means he should be allowed to steal my potatoes?”

“The biggest one!” one of the women ejaculated!

“Keep quiet, Frau Metzing,” Mamer warned her, and she quickly settled down.

OH MY GOD, I LOVE ALL OF THESE PEOPLE. How unexpected is this? I guess I just expected people to turn on him or, at the very least, just keep quiet. But because these people spoke up, Mamer, lets Rudy go, merely telling him not to come back.

For Rudy, it was yet another failure.

Still, for Rudy, he knows he can’t get a break, and one “failure” after another starts to dampen his general outlook, and I think that’s what motivates him to confront Franz Deutscher in the way that he does. Of course, it’s a foolish thing to do, and Rudy knows it, but he’s also acutely aware of just the kind of person Franz is. Maybe there’s a part of Rudy that recognizes that these things might give Franz the joy to harm someone else, but they also irritate the hell out of him. And maybe that’s the only sort of victory that Rudy can have at this point in his life.

Franz simply waits for the chance to create even the most mediocre of justifications for singling out Tommy and Rudy, and it seems he gets way too many chances, but in this particular instance, Rudy goads him on purposely. As Franz bothers Rudy with trivia regarding Hitler (specifically, his birthdate), Rudy answers:

…the birth of Christ. He even threw in Bethlehem as an added piece of information.

Bless your heart forever, Rudy. Yes, he’s definitely giving Franz what he wants, but I can’t help and laugh at how defiant and silly Rudy is. It’s lovely.

Seven laps and six wrong answers later, he gives the right answer, but Franz doesn’t take out his real frustration for a few days, when he comes across Rudy, Liesel, Tommy, and Tommy’s sister in the streets. Like most of the bullies I’ve come across in my life, Franz always seems to be with a pack, and I actually don’t know if I was ever bullied by a person who did things alone, now that I think of it. What I didn’t do, however, was ever incite bullying in the way that Rudy does, though there’s definitely a part of me that wishes I had purposely aggravated and stood up to my bullies. I didn’t, though, until after I left high school.

(Sidenote, completely unrelated, really, to this book. For anyone who was bullied in high school or junior high or whenver, has Facebook essentially facilitated these people contacting you many years later? And, like my experience, do these people treat you as if they never bullied you in the first place? Or am I alone in this one? Just curious. I’ve always wanted to know.)

I don’t know that Franz really needs any more context to his bullying. He’s a boy who has power. That power is from a variety of sources, from being male, to being in a position of authority in the Hitler Youth, to being physically more intimidating than Rudy, and he uses all of them at once here. It’s actually pretty hard to read this section because it feels so familiar to me. I can remember being held down in bathrooms or locker rooms or out behind the soccer signposts on the field in junior high, feeling the same mixture of terror and fury that Rudy feels here. But I didn’t fight back in any way in those days, so when Franz’s fist connects with Rudy’s face and he falls to the floor, feeling the pain spread through his face and the rest of his body, it wasn’t hard for me to imagine myself in that place as well.

It’s weird, because I don’t find it…triggery or anything. It doesn’t upset me. I just think it’s another sign that Zusak is a talented writer. It’s not easy to create things like this and have them feel so realistic. And I don’t even have the same experience as Rudy does, obviously, but it feels…right? Ok, not like THIS IS A THING IN THE UNIVERSE THAT IS RIGHT AND HOLY, but it’s either something Zusak knows from experience or knows secondhand. Or he truly is as good a writer as he’s shown us in these pages.

Despite it’s lack of practicality, I am glad that Rudy stops going to the Hitler Youth meetings. After Franz beats him up and cuts off large parts of his hair, Rudy correctly believes that Franz is simply dangerous to be around. Merely going to those meetings would be a threat to his personal wellbeing. It’s just unfortunate that not going has such dangerous ramifications for other people:

First, his parents threatened him. He didn’t attend.

They begged him to go. He refused.

Eventually, it was the opportunity to join a different division that swayed Rudy in the right direction. This was fortunate, because if he didn’t show his face soon, the Steiners would be fined for his non-attendance.

And we know that the Steiners literally could not afford such a thing, which is why this whole situation is so unfortunate for Rudy.

His older brother, Kurt, inquired as to whether Rudy might join the Flieger Division, which specialized in the teaching of aircraft and flying. Mostly, they built model airplanes, and there was no Franz Deutscher. Rudy accepted, and Tommy also joined. It was the one time in his life that his idiotic behavior delivered beneficial results.

But it’s still not quite the win that Rudy wants. That comes soon, however.


In a moment of pure chance in December, Liesel and Rudy come upon Franz Deutscher again while walking home. Knowing they both don’t want to be witness and victim to his particular brand of sadistic bullying, they quickly re-route in another direction, unfortunately heading straight to another group of people that are just as equally threatening: Viktor Chemmel. I’d forgotten that Death had told us that Viktor would get his revenge on Rudy in five months’ time. In doing so, Death also completes the story of the “floating book” that opened Part Five, as we learn why Rudy is in that river chasing a book.

Viktor is quick to pull Liesel’s copy of The Whistler out of her hand and despite that she tries to hide its importance, Viktor realizes that it’s something that means something to her. He has no idea where it came from or how Liesel came to possess or how it signifies the moment she got her moniker either. He just knows he can harm Liesel AND Rudy by taking it and tossing it in the river.

There’s no hesitation on Rudy’s part to chase after the book and harm himself in the process to retrieve it:

Liesel, slowing to a walk, could see the ache of each step. The painful cold.

I don’t really need to explain how close these two have grown together, so I’d rather talk about what this means for Rudy, which Death spells out in another one of his asides:

1. After months of failure, this moment was his only
chance to revel in some victory.
2. Such a position of selfishness was a good place
to ask Liesel for the usual favor.
How could she possibly turn him down?

“How about a kiss, Saumensch?”

So, are you ready to have your guts punched out?

He stood waist-deep in the water for a few moments longer before climbing out and handing her the book. His pants clung to him, and he did not stop walking. In truth, I think he was afraid. Rudy Steiner was scared of the book thief’s kiss. He must have longed for it so much. He must have loved her so incredibly hard. So hard that he would never ask for her lips again and would go to his grace without them.

Thank you, Markus Zusak, for making me want to cry in just one paragraph. This is why Death says that Rudy didn’t deserve to die the way he did. Death could see the capacity of Rudy’s heart and it was a rare, beautiful thing.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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49 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Book Thief’: Chapters 43-44

  1. stellaaaaakris says:

    Part 5 is called "The Whistler." THIS IS A LIE. A much more accurate title would be "Rudy Steiner Breaks stellaaaaakris' Heart into a Bajillion Pieces."

    I understand why some people might not mind Rudy's death being spoiled, but, for me, it's really hard to enjoy the moments I have with him.

    Ever since Death's little announcement, I've been trying to convince myself that Death is actually a practical joker and that the bombing is going to happen and Rudy will survive and then Death will be all, "PSYCH!!! Bet you didn't know Death had a wicked sense of humor. Suckers!" And then Rudy and Liesel have beautiful, thieving children some time in the future or whatever. But, after reading that last page, I think I finally have to give up on this dream and accept that every time Rudy appears on the page, I will feel as though someone has stabbed me in the heart and is twisting the knife. It's the same feeling I get when Fred talked about his wedding "plans" and when Amos mentions Cedric's grandchildren. Oh, my heart.

    I've been reading this book on the commute to/from work, but I'm thinking I'm going to need to stop soon if I want to limit how much sobbing I do in public.

    • After Fred, I was never able to go back and read the HP series–which is sad, because it was one of my favorite series and I'd read each book multiple times.

      Somehow, though, I've been able to read The Book Thief around 5 times now. Maybe it's because I didn't develop fondness for these characters over the course of several years and books, the way I did with HP. (I do start crying earlier and harder with every Book Thief re-read, though. The day will soon come that I opento the first page and start bawling.)

    • monkeybutter says:

      I'm sure the person sitting next to you doesn't mine being snotted on. It is like we're rereading the book and agonizing over everything the doomed character says. Poor Fred/Cedric/Lupin/Rudy.

    • cait0716 says:

      I don't even worry about crying on the metro, which I do every single day while reading this book. Screw what other people think of you

    • Mowgli3 says:

      But is it really spoiled? Don't we know that every single person in our lives is going to die at some point? I think Death is just making it more concrete to us– but I think Death is also giving us the opportunity to appreciate Rudy even more, now that we know he's going to die sooner than we expected.

      However, yes, my heart has been stabbed with sadness. 🙁

      • Lindsey says:

        I feel like if Death didn't spoil Rudy's death for us, the moment in the book when he does die would just be a huge shock, like so many deaths in the Hunger Games trilogy were. By letting us know ahead of time and giving us time to let it sink in, Death allows us to get more out of that moment when it finally comes.

        • flootzavut says:

          Yes! 1st time I read this book I thought that knowing would lessen the impact, but it really didn't.

          I do agree that it's a bit like re-reading HP knowing Fred's fate – Fred talking about wedding planes *sob*

          There's something beautifully poignant about knowing that we only have a finite amount of Rudy-ness left. And Rudy keeps being so damn adorable…

  2. Sarah says:

    Am I the only one who shamelessly giggled when we find out Hitler's birthday is 4/20?

    I never knew that, even after taking a Holocaust History and Literature class in college.

  3. stellaaaaakris says:

    Also, I had a different reading of Frau Metzing. While I certainly agree that the teacher was all about helping Rudy out, I thought she was upset that Rudy was trying to take the biggest potato since she wanted it herself. I don't think she wanted to help Rudy out at all. Or maybe I'm just cynical. That's entirely possible.

  4. In the midst of all this sadness, I post a bit that made me laugh:

    Within a few seconds, the knife was applied to his hair. It was haircut number two in this section of Liesel's life. The hair of a Jew was cut with rusty scissors. Her best friend was taken to with a gleaming knife. She knew nobody who actually paid for a haircut.


    • cait0716 says:

      Aww. That line made me sad, because I'd never thought about haircuts as a luxury item before. It drives home how poor Liesel and her family are

  5. monkeybutter says:

    Rudy is impetuous and loyal and proud and stubborn. He's a great kid, and I'm heartbroken over his kissless death, too. The questions about that were answered pretty quickly, weren't they? I'm glad that Zusak didn't drag out the suspense of when Liesel would finally kiss him, but it's tragic that he wasn't kissed by Liesel because he loved her too much to ask. It's the one thing he stopped being daring about.

  6. This isn't directly connected to these particular chapters, but Diane Duane re-tweeted a link to this little news item yesterday:

    Jews Given Back Books Stolen by Nazis

  7. SecretGirl127 says:

    "So hard that he would never ask for her lips again and would go to his grace without them."
    How I love your typos…"grace" instead of "grave", both are fitting.

  8. mugglemomof2 says:

    (Sidenote, completely unrelated, really, to this book. For anyone who was bullied in high school or junior high or whenver, has Facebook essentially facilitated these people contacting you many years later? And, like my experience, do these people treat you as if they never bullied you in the first place? Or am I alone in this one? Just curious. I’ve always wanted to know.)

    It is not just you. I can gladly say I wasn't bullied. But I "knew" people who were like that in HS and I ended up having a HUGE fight in HS with this group calling them out on their behavior. Made life a little difficult for me- but worth it! (their idea of fun was going to a grocery store to trip old people -REALLY??!!! Who does that??)

    Then one of these morons tries to friend me on FB and I kept declining the offer. (Probably not the best place to take place) but I saw her at a funeral and she starts getting all nasty asking why I won't be her friend on FB? My response was "You were a bitch in school who I wouldn't associate with- I can't think you've had a complete personality change so why would I want to be friends with you now?"
    That shut her up.
    I don't understand why everyone on FB thinks just because you once "knew" someone that automatically means you should be FB friends. If I didn't like you then, wtf do I care if you have kids now or what you are doing?

    • anninyn says:

      I friend them so I can laugh at the hell their lives have become. And with no exception, their lives HAVE become hell. Oh Karma, bullies, you never believed me before…

    • Andrea says:

      What! Funerals are great times to hash out facebook friend requests! Seriously, it sounds like that girl has made a lifetime of terrible decisions.

  9. anninyn says:

    Rudy 🙁

    Let me just cry some here.

  10. HieronymusGrbrd says:

    Facebook? What is Facebook? :evilgrin:

    Is Kurt also in the Flieger Division? Will he soon become I pilot?

    Poor Rudy! :sob:

  11. cait0716 says:

    Well Death managed to completely crush any hope I had of Liesel kisisng Rudy prior to his death. Now i just want more.

    I had what I think is fairly unique high school experience when it comes to bullies. I grew up in rural CO, so we were all in the same class from kindergarten through HS, which may have been part of it. But I think I also lived in a bit of an idyllic community. Or maybe I was just completely oblivious. Anyway, there was this girl, A, who was really mean to my friend K. She spent a lot of grade school bullying K, though we could never figure out why. A tried to enforce the social structure that movies display, with a queen bee and all that, and we basically rebelled. By middle school A had no friends left and ended up leaving school. She came back in high school and quietly went about her business. She had her group of friends, but any thoughts of popularity had left her mind. (To be fair, the most popular guys at my school were the tennis and golf players who also starred in the musicals. The cheerleaders and football players all dated each other because no one else wanted to. And my nerdiness actually earned me respect rather than disdain.)

    I ended up working at restaurant with A after we turned 16, and she never acknowledged how mean she had been to my friends in grade school. I kept her at arm's length, but there was never any true hostility between us. So I guess that counts as a bully re-entering my life and ignoring the bullying, but it was pre-facebook.

  12. enigmaticagentscully says:

    I don't know about Facebook, but I was quite badly bullied at (an all girls) school by a group of girls, though my best friend got the worst of it for trying to stand up to them.
    We're both at University now, and my friend told me the other day she met one of these girls in the street. The girl just acted as if they were old friends from school and said they should 'get together sometime', despite the fact that they had NEVER associated at school, other than for her to hurl insults.

    It's really bizarre the way old bullies act, isn't it? I feel like it's almost insulting, the idea that these people don't even remember the hell they put you through. I get the idea of wanting to move past it and make a fresh start, but you know what would be a good idea if you really feel remorse for what you did?

    Sorry, rant over! 😛 Bullying is a bit of a touchy subject for me.

    • @carriesnead says:

      I wasn't a bully and don't ~know their thoughts~ or whatever, but I have a sad feeling that the reason they don't apologize is that they don't even remember their actions. I think they've told themselves a story in the intervening years in which they star as the cool person who was a friend to all. Which is even more hurtful to the person they bullied, because it's like, "Wow, you ruined my life and then you just casually forgot it ever happened. Because it meant nothing to you, whereas I have lived with the fallout ever since."

      To answer Mark's question: I had one bully in middle school and high school, but it's kind of a stretch to call her that, as her biggest crime was just deciding the day she met me in sixth grade that she flat-out did not like me. For the next six years, her "bullying" just consisted of being condescending and dismissive, and talking shit about me to people occasionally. But she was sort of a "taste-maker" for our class, if you know what I mean. Her opinion mattered to people, and she was super-friendly with like everyone else I knew, so her revulsion of me hurt my feelings, and made things hard and awkward sometimes.

      When I joined FB, she was already friends with all of my friends. Obviously, I didn't reach out to her, nor she to me. But we saw each other at a wedding last fall and talked for hours. It was like we'd just met for the first time and finally realized we had a lot in common. We're FB friends now, and it's pretty cool actually.

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      I've had similar experiences. When I was about primary/middle school, I had these really close group of friends, who really turned on me when we went to secondary/high school. They made my life living hell for basically two years, and made me afraid of interacting with people my age even longer.

      Then, suddenly, in the last two years of High School, it was like it had never happened. They didn't suddenly start wanting to hang out again, but they'd smile in corridors, and being all nice and friendly. I don't want to hold on to old grudges, and it might be that they genuinely changed…but I couldn't help but remembering all the pain they caused me. And its like they don't even remember it ever happening.

  13. Haley says:

    I've been waiting for you to get to that last paragraph for this whole entire thing! It's my absolute favorite part of the entire book. I just love Rudy so much.

  14. jennywildcat says:

    As to your Facebook question – yeah, I've had people that I never want have any contact with again try to friend me on Facebook. I finally got to the point when I just ignored all their friend requests.

    Back to these chapters:

    RUUUUUDY!!! *sniff*

  15. Anonymous says:

    Is is sad that tears welled up in my eyes (as they do so many many times during this book) reading the last two paragraphs?

  16. shortstack930 says:

    Knowing about Rudy's death is so hard, because every time he is mentioned I'm wondering if it's for the last time. This just goes to show that even though Death spoiled Rudy's death, he still has me on the edge of my seat.

  17. Mowgli3 says:

    (Sidenote, completely unrelated, really, to this book. For anyone who was bullied in high school or junior high or whenver, has Facebook essentially facilitated these people contacting you many years later? And, like my experience, do these people treat you as if they never bullied you in the first place? Or am I alone in this one? Just curious. I’ve always wanted to know.)

    LOSIDHGSODHGSDLGKHSD YES. I'm so glad I'm not alone in this!! I have assholes who bullied me all throughout middle/high school try to add me on Facebook, sometimes with a "Hey, haven't seen you in a while, how are things?" message. UM, MUCH BETTER, NOW THAT YOU ARE NOT WRITING 'CUNT' ON MY LOCKER OR PUTTING MOLDY FOOD IN IT.

    But being the person I am, I sometimes accept them, thinking, "Hey, maybe they've learned the err of their ways and want to apologize, I don't want to shut that down." Then I accept them and…nothing. What's the absolute WORST is when they joke about things and act like we were great friends. "Oh, remember when Mr. Owens said this? That was so funny!" Um, I remember you passing around a note about how ugly I was and also telling me to shut up because no one wanted to hear my "stupid voice" anymore. I actually ended up sending one girl a message asking WTF was going on, she hated me in HS and now she wants to be friends? And she replied with something along the lines of "Oh, that was so long ago, and it wasn't even a big deal! I can't believe you still remember that!" Deleted her immediately. If you sent me home crying on more than one occasion, yes, I remember it.

  18. Cerrie says:

    OH. Epiphany! I just realized who Rudy Steiner reminds me of!!!!!!! RON WEASLY!!!!!!!!

  19. Ellalalalala says:

    I was so so so so so scared that Rudy was about to get stabbed. I know the haircut is extremely humiliating, but I wouldn't put anything past that Chemmel dude.

    Chemmel and Deutscher, just …no. Stop it now. You suck and Rudy is the awesomest.

    Seriously too upset about Rudy to be able to process it, so I have a happy Facebook/bully interface story to make everything pretty again (I actually wrote about it a few days ago, but it fits now too).

    The closest thing I had to a bully (he never singled me out, but I was among the butts of his "jokes", which were, let me assure you, HILARIOUS) contacted me (and apparently lots of other people) on Facebook specifically to apologise. It was pretty awesome. We're Facebook friends now, and, although we interact really, I do get a warm fuzzy every time he comes up on my newsfeed because he has really looked at his life and looked at his choices and turned himself around.


    And then we die, yes Death, I get it.

    • bradycardia says:

      I have had a similar experience with a girl I went to school with. I wouldn't go so far as to say she bullied me specifically but certainly never treated me well. I met her at our 10 year school reunion and she made point of coming to speak to me, to apologise for the way she acted in school.
      Like you say, it gave me a warm fuzzy feeling, not only that she has changed, but that she would make the effort to come apologise for her previous behaviour.

  20. Joanie says:

    In a twisted way I do like that I know of Rudy's incoming death, because then I don't have to re-read the book to appreciate all the good times Death shares with us. Haha, that came off a bit weird. But I love looking back and just AGONIZE over a character's life if I get attached to them. I have a problem with re-reading books (don't have the time, boo) and this allows me to focus my attention on Rudy's life, which is a good thing, because he deserves all the love. And that kiss.:(

  21. @GalFawkes says:

    I was bullied in middle school verbally by these guys, and it was on the grounds that I was unattractive. Sometimes I almost wish the guys would see me now when I'm looking good and then they'd realize they were wrong to tease me for being ugly. Otherwise, though, nope, no contact from my bullies. I kind of really want for them to realize just how awful their behavior toward me was.

  22. Pixie says:

    Regarding your Facebook question: Yes, that happened quite regularly after high school, but I found those requests easy enough to ignore (and still do so). There was one occasion where one of my tormentors spotted me at the mall & tried waving;
    I responded by flipping her off, because – hello? – she made my life hell for decades!

    So Mark, I’d just ignore those if I were you. It makes life easier.

  23. canadadian says:

    So I've been mostly lurking, as people have been somehow reading my thoughts on the chapters through the astral plane and then posting them before I did. Sneaky Arschlöcher. (That is the plural of Arschloch, I googled it 😉 )
    But your Facebook-bully-sidenote made me temporarily come out of the woodwork, as it were. I have that same problem – except it's not many years later, it's 2 or 3… even 1 with some of them. Which makes me think that they didn't view what they did to me as bullying – whereas I…
    Sorry. I wish I was as confident as you all, to be able to tell your stories to a group of strangers. I haven't quite gotten to that point yet. Suffice to say that those people made my childhood/early teenagehood pretty miserable, and I haven't really been able to get over it yet, to the point where it's much harder for me to make friends or trust people like I used to.

  24. potlid007 says:

    so this is part of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the whole project sounds really awesome! It's about locating children who had to be relocated during world war II. It reminded me of Liesel. Just though I'd share…

  25. hilarius11 says:

    Mark, after you asked about bullying I skipped the rest of the review to tell you my story.
    In middle school, I was bullied relentlessly by one girl and her group. Her group consisted of two girls and two boys. Now, I went to a different high school than the rest of them, so I didn't see much of the group for four years. Then, when I went to college, my little brother started talking about his new friend at his high school whose brother went to school with me. Turns out, it was one of the boys from this bully's group, I'll call him Jim. I told my brother about the abuse I'd gotten from Jim, but he said that his friend was better than that.
    Fast forward a few years, junior year of college. I am on Facebook and I get a message from Jim, asking to be my friend. I agree, thinking why not. He then chats me, asks how things are, etc. I'm cold and elusive, to say the least. He soon cuts to the chase and says that he knows our brothers are hanging out now. Jim says he's been thinking a lot about middle school and that he realized what a horrible person he'd been. He apologized to me.
    That was a wonderful feeling. Freshman year of college, the girl who lead the group of bullies, I'll call her Jane, she asked to be my facebook friend. I rejected her. She asked again. I said no. She asked a third time, this time with a message asking why I wouldn't accept her. I said, "sorry, but we aren't friends, why should I accept you as one?" to which she essentially cussed me out, calling me a bitch. I asked why she even wanted to be friends on facebook and she had no answer.
    Jane was a horrible person. I heard she continues to bad mouth me to this day.
    Anyway, my story. back to your review!!

  26. JessicaR says:

    At first, I was absolutely infuriated that Death spoiled Rudy's death for all of us, I remember reading The Book Thief for the first time and after Death's spoiler, every time Rudy was mentioned, my heart aches. But later on, I think it was better that way because it made me appreciate Rudy even more. He's my favorite character and these two chapters were a mixture of laughter and spontaneous tears. :'((((

    Rudy Steiner, you are awesome.

  27. Inessa says:

    When I read Death’s spoiler about Rudy’s death a few chapters ago, a few days ahead of you getting upto it, I literally laughed out loud, because the first thing I thought of was how you would react to the book itself spoiling you. Then I felt guilty at laughing at the announcement of Rudy’s death. I always soil books fir myself. It’s like a guilty secret. I get into a book, and the impatience makes me too anxious. I like to read slowly and thoroughly, so I skip along with gaps, or just go to the end, get myself thoroughly spoiled, and then I can relax and go back and read properly. I have to say though, after I spoil it for myself, I feel a sensation like I binged and then threw up. This was so refreshing for me, the book doing precisely what I do, and justifying it, allaying my guilt.

  28. A*R says:

    Okay so I wrote like this big huge story, anndd the internet trolled me and deleted it.
    Shot version, I was bullied so badly in elementary for not being "normal" and because of religion I actually have scars. I got chased home everyday with rocks and sticks thrown at me. My principal thought I was the wrong doer and punished me for it, because I wasn't normal to her either. When I tried to stand up for myself, my teachers punished me. As a reminder of the hell and harsh words and actions I went through I have two scars. One on my chin from being hurled from the top of the jungle gym and smacking my chin on the wooden posting, and the other from when a group of kids pinned me to the ground and stabbed a pencil into my arm. The tip of graphite it still there.
    I moved away one day from The Big City to Small Town Canada, and some of these people started adding me to Facebook. As though none of these atrocious things had happened.
    I had two options, reem them out and then delete them, or ignore it. Adding them didn't feel like an option.
    At first I really wanted to yell at all for the things they had done, but I realized that would only fuel my anger and hatred. Really, I have nothing to be hateful over. My family picked up and moved to get me away, I lived in a better place. So I just never added them, deleted them and left it. Because they had no place in my life, thoughts or Facebook; and that has made me happier I think.

    It's nice to know someone else has a similar experience to mine, it makes things feel less lonely and awful. 🙂

  29. Stellasan says:

    I love Rudy, just saying. I really love him so much.

    About your question, Mark. Yeah, it happened to me too. I still don't know why I haven't deleted the girls who bullied me off my facebook. Maybe I just want to prove them wrong, or maybe I haven't stopped hoping that one day they will apologise for what they did.

    I was in eighth grade, in my first year living in the US. I'd been in the school for more than half a year now and I felt that I got along quite well with other people. I felt that the others liked me, or at least, didn't hate me. I've always been a quiet, shy girl and back then I was even more reserved. But I was friendly. I'm the type of person who lets you borrow my pens and when you don't return them, I never complain because I'm too afraid of your response. Which is irrational, I know.
    So basically, I'm German. My entire class, those of us who took french, went to Quebec on a school trip. It was a rainy but nice week and nearing the end of it, we walked through the forest until we got to some abandoned house. I can't remember what we did there, but then the teachers told us to run back to the camp in groups of two or three. I ran with my best friend.

    We were jogging and talking and laughing while running through the slick mud. Then three girls who I had labelled and popular and who I thought liked me, stopped running and turned towards us. They called out my name and I, assuming they had a question, jsut smiled and walked up to them. When I got there, they laughed and called me "Nazi", "Hitler lover" and "German whore." The last one did not bother me as much. But the first two are serious offensive names in Germany. My eyes immediately filled with tears and like always, I just let them laugh at me and continue running. My friend tried to defend me, but they called her a wannabe Australian or something and then sped off. I was too shocked and hurt and rather crushed. I spent the next day crying. My other, American friends did not understand why I was so bothered. After all, people used that term like a throwaway one all the time.

    But for me it really, really hurt because I knew what had happened so many years ago. I felt guilty about it every single history lesson where it was brought up. Like most German children, my countries' negative history had been drilled into my head ever since I joined preschool and for every year since that. I knew and that was what hurt. I just couldn't see what I had done to deserve being called something so horrible.

    Those three girls are friends of mine on facebook. I am actually glad that I never stooped to their level, that I continued to smile at them for days afterwards and that I even said Happy Birthday to one of the bullies when she had her birthday two days after the incident. I think that girl was rather embarrassed about what she had done afterwards. But words can't be taken back.

    They never did formally apologise to me. You know what's funny? The only person who stood up for me out of the onehundred students in my class, was the one kid who had just come out of the closet. Obviously he knew what it was like to be bullied for who you are, especially, if it's not your fault.

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