Mark Reads ‘The Book Thief’: Chapters 77-78

In the seventy-seventh and seventy-eighth chapters of The Book Thief, there is not a human alive that was even remotely prepared for this. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Book Thief.



the book thief

what the fuck



Again, I offer you a glimpse of the end. Perhaps it’s to soften the blow for later, or to better prepare myself for the telling. Either way, I must inform you that it was raining on Himmel Street when the world ended for Liesel Meminger.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN. Are you suggesting she dies, Death? But….but….you said it was going to be Rudy Steiner! I don’t understand this. What the hell is going on?

* * * A SMALL, SAD HOPE * * *
No one wanted to bomb Himmel Street.
No one would bomb a place named after
heaven, would they? Would they?

What the hell????? WHAT. WHAT. WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON. What are you doing, Death?

The bombs came down, and soon, the clouds would bake and the cold raindrops would turn to ash. Hot snowflakes would shower to the ground.

In short, Himmel Street was flattened.

Houses were splashed from one side of the street to the other. A framed photo of a very serious-looking Führer was bashed and beaten on the shattered floor. Yet he smiled, in that serious way of his. He knew something we all didn’t know. But I knew something he didn’t know. All while people slept.

I seriously don’t understand this. Why did Death lead me to believe that Rudy was the one to die at the end of this? What is he talking about in regards to Hitler? What does he know? What does Death know? I am so confused, everyone, I DON’T LIKE THIS FEELING.

Rudy Steiner slept. Mama and Papa slept. Frau Holtzapfel, Frau Diller. Tommy Müller. All sleeping. All dying.

WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?!?!!?!? NO, YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS. No, I refuse to believe it. No, you can’t do this, THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO SURVIVE. Oh my god, what. What. What. WHAT THE HELL.

Only one person survived.

YOU DON’T EVEN MEAN THIS METAPHORICALLY, MARKUS ZUSAK. You literally just killed off nearly the entire cast of characters in this book IN ONE PARAGRAPH.

I seriously had to stop at this line. I couldn’t read for nearly five minutes, as I tried to process the unbearable information just shoved in front of me, and I could feel tears forming, though my brain felt numb. They were all dead. You can’t do that, I though. THIS BOOK WAS DEPRESSING ENOUGH.

She survived because she was sitting in a basement reading through the story of her own life, checking for mistakes. Previously, the room had been declared too shallow, but on that night, October 7, it was enough. The shells of wreckage cantered down, and hours later, when the strange, unkempt silence settled itself in Molching, the local LSE could hear something. An echo. Down there, somewhere, a girl was hammering a paint can with a pencil.

The world has ended for Liesel Meminger. It makes sense now. She doesn’t need to die to have her life ended. She just has to lose EVERYTHING THAT HAS EVER MATTERED TO HER.

I can’t even. I just cannot. This hurts too much.

Blocks of cement and roof tiles.
A pieces of wall with a dripping sun
painted on it. An unhappy-looking
accordion, peering through its
eaten case.

Pieces of Liesel’s life, of 33 Himmel Street, of everything she held dear, now relegated to the term of “rubble.” Words can hurt, too.

There was so much joy among the cluttering, calling men, but I could not fully share their enthusiasm.

Earlier, I’d held her papa in one arm and her mama in the other. Each soul was so soft.

It’s real. It actually happened. They are dead. Fucking hell, this is brutal and bleak and somehow worse than everything we’ve gone through, worse than all the plot twists in the books I’ve read and wrote about. No fanfare, no majestic goodbye. Just robbed of life from the falling canisters. That’s it.

Good god.

Farther away, their bodies were laid out, like the rest. Papa’s lovely silver eyes were already starting to rust, and Mama’s cardboard lips were fixed half open, most likely the shape of an incomplete snore. To blaspheme like the Germans–Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

I can’t even cry anymore. I did when Death first unceremoniously announced this new news, but I’m completely numb at this point. This is seriously awful. WHY DID I CHOOSE TO READ THIS BOOK. my heart.

The rescuers pull Liesel from the ruins of 33 Himmel Street, from the basement that held paintings and memories of Max Vandenburg, the lonely Jew, from the nights of books and accordions, from the cold drafts that caused sickness (or perceived to be the cause), from the place where Liesel began to truly write. Liesel ignores the men, who want to know how she knew to be in the basement when there were no air raid sirens, and she calls out a singular cry for her father.

A second time. Her face creased as she reached a higher, more panic-stricken pitch. “Papa, Papa!”

They passed her up as she shouted, wailed, and cried. If she was injured, she did not yet know it, for she struggled free and searched and called and wailed some more.

My god, Liesel. I’m so sorry. I wish you didn’t have to see this and experience this. I wish I could just turn back the pages and none of this would have to happen.

She was still clutching the book.

She was holding desperately on to the words who had saved her life.

What a tragic stroke of metaphorical coincidence. This book has been about the power of words to save a life, and now we see how they’ve literally done that.

I can’t. I just can’t.


How do you seriously read past this? How do you go back and try to read about the ninety-seven days before Himmel Street is destroyed? They’re all dead. I CAN’T READ ABOUT THEIR JOY AND HAPPINESS.

For ninety-seven days, which now seems like a few minutes in my head, things at 33 Himmel Street are about as close to “normal” as they could be. There’s happiness and music in the Hubermann household. Hans’s job in Munich is easy, and he even gets to bring home treats some days.

On that ninety-eighth day, the Jews return to Molching, but this time, they’re marched in the opposite direction, heading to a local town to clean up after some unspecified incident that the army refuses to clean. (Actually, there may not be an event at all. In hindsight, this section also can read as if the city just needed a cleaning anyway.)

Just like Liesel here, my mind instantly jumped to Max Vandenburg. It’s so easy for me, as the reader, to drop myself right into Liesel’s mind, holding out the hope that Max will pass by so that I can know he’s still alive, but also hoping I don’t see him because then that means he was captured.

He was not there. Not on this occasion.

Just give it time, though, for on a warm afternoon in August, Max would most certaily be marched through town with the rest of them. Unlike the others, however, he would not watch the road. He would not look randomly into the Führer’s German grandstand.

* * * A FACT REGARDING * * *
He would search the faces on Munich
Street for a book-thieving girl.

WELL, SHIT. He’s alive? That’s a relief. It’s a huge one, actually, especially after the liberal dose of tragedy I just read through. He’s captured and that makes me have a million questions that I need answered, but I’ll just wait until later to see if Zusak answers them. However, I noticed that he doesn’t arrive until August, months after the bombing. So is Liesel even in Molching anymore at this point?

Those Jews come through twice in ten days and Liesel does not see Max. Zusak, on the other hand, isn’t satisfied with just heaping all that tragedy on us without adding a little more, remarking that someone would be found dead before those bombs destroyed Himmel Street:

He was hanging from one of the rafters in a laundry up near Frau Diller’s. Another human pendulum. Another clock, stopped.

The careless owner had left the door open.

* * * JULY 24, 6:03 A.M. * * *
The laundry was warm, the rafters
were firm, and Michael Holtzapfel
jumped from the chair as if it
were a cliff.

SERIOUSLY, PLEASE STOP THIS ZUSAK. Two scoops of tragedy IN A ROW? Oh my god, poor Michael. Poor Frau Holtzapfel!

They had too many ways, they were too resourceful–and when they did it too well, whatever their chosen method, I was in no position to refuse.

Michael Holtzapfel knew what he was doing.

He killed himself for wanting to live.

I seriously don’t know how much more of this I can take. This story has become so bleak and painful, especially when my thoughts wander to some of those moments hundreds of pages away. Everyone is dead. Everyone. I have never read a book that is so heinous in the way it disposes its characters. Liesel and Max are the only two left alive, and I don’t even have hope at this point that either of them will survive either. At the same time, this is a book about a nation embroiled in a global war. To ignore the death that came along with it would be disingenuous.

Death describes the atmosphere in Molching on July 24, 1943 in a very interesting way: through disinterest. He knows from what Liesel wrote that screams filled the neighborhood when they discovered the body:

I did not see Frau Holtzapfel laid out flat on Himmel Street, her arms out wide, her screaming face in total despair. No, I didn’t discover any of that until I came back a few months later and read something called The Book Thief. It was explained to me that in the end, Michael Holtzapfel was worn down not by his damaged hand or any other injury, but by the guilt of living.

Holy shit, the name of this book is the name of Liesel’s book. I just sort of put two and two together and I think this is basically all the confirmation I need for how this novel is going to end. Death said Liesel’s story lasts six months past Hans’s return, and if he picks up The Book Thief a few months after this, does that mean he’s going to come to pick up her soul, too? I remember a scene he mentioned very, very long ago, about how he came upon the book he uses to tell this story. Liesel wasn’t dead then, though, was she? She was running away and drops the book, right? (I’m ok with you discussing this as long as you don’t explain the ending or anything beyond this.)

Liesel’s book provides the context for this that Death never knows, that Michael Holtzapfel had stopped sleeping:

Liesel wrote that sometimes she almost told him about her own brother, like she did with Max, but there seemed a big difference between a long-distance cough and two obliterated legs. How do you console a man who has seen such things? Could you tell him the Führer was proud of him, that the Führer loved him for what he did in Stailngrad? How could you even dare? You can only let him do the talking.

I actually think it was smart for Liesel not to try to compare the two, despite that maybe there was a chance it would actually have comforted Michael. It also seems that Michael was headed to this inevitable end anyway, not content to stand his guilt anymore.

Dear Mama,
Can you ever forgive me?
I just couldn’t stand it any longer.
I’m meeting Robert. I don’t care
what the damn Catholics say about it.
There must be a place in heaven for
those who have been where I have been.
You might think I don’t love you
because of what I’ve done, but I do.
Your Michael

I mean, how do you even comment about this sort of thing? I’ve had experience with feeling suicidal and I know, to some extent, what this feels like, but the context for me is different, and that’s where I vastly differentiate from this.

It’s just heartbreaking. It’s as simple as that. This whole book is one giant set-up for the inevitable heartbreak.

The neighborhood turns to one man to be the source of news and comfort, and it’s a proper fit: Hans Hubermann. Frau Holtzapfel lost two sons in six months, and she reacts with the horror and the grief you’d expect from such a tragic occurrence:

She said the name Michael at least two dozen times, but Michael had already answered. According to the book thief, Frau Holtzapfel hugged the book for nearly an hour. She then returned to the blinding sun of Himmel Street and sat herself down. She could no longer walk.

From a distance, people observed. Such a thing was easier from far away.
Hans Hubermann sat with her.

He placed his hand on hers, as she fell back to the hard ground.

He allowed her screams to fill the street.

It’s weird, knowing that Himmel Street will be destroyed not long after this. I feel like we just saw the moment it was actually destroyed, as Frau Holtzapfel’s grief tears it all apart.

I seriously cannot believe what this book has become. To say I was unprepared is not even close. It’s just….jesus christ. What the hell.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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62 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Book Thief’: Chapters 77-78

  1. mugglemomof2 says:

    the book thief

    what the fuck

    I just snorted at my desk so loud a co-worker came in to ask what's up? LMAO- we warned you Mark!

    The world has ended for Liesel Meminger. It makes sense now. She doesn’t need to die to have her life ended. She just has to lose EVERYTHING THAT HAS EVER MATTERED TO HER.
    And all our hearts break into a million pieces 🙁 🙁

  2. I have been literally afraid for you and your reaction.

    Liesel wasn’t dead then, though, was she? She was running away and drops the book, right?

    Right, she drops the book in her grief, and Death grabs it before it can be carted away with the rubble.

    A piece of wall with a dripping sun painted on it.

    It kills me when the rescue workers pass that piece of "rubble" up. The remnants of such beauty, reduced to…this.

  3. barnswallowkate says:

    I'm having a hard time writing down what this section makes me feel, but here goes…

    When I read the part about Death carrying Rosa & Hans’ souls away I just kept thinking “no no no no no NO." And I finished the chapter thinking that surely this story will change by the end of the book and they’ll find some way to survive and somehow Death was telling the story wrong. But it won’t be different, and they’ll still die, and even though that’s a fact I still tell myself “maybe they will be ok” and I keep reading along like I’ve done the whole time.

    It’s just like what Death said in the first few lines of the book: “Here is a small fact: you are going to die.” It’s fact, it can’t be avoided, it should be a monumental force in everyone's life and yet I go on living my life like I always do, like it’s not true. Reading this section was like a miniature version of living life – I know how it ends but I pretend that I don’t. I see what you did there, Death/Zusak.

  4. anninyn says:

    Mark, I'm sorry. I start crying here and never stop. I wanted to wartn you, but- spoilers.

  5. Albion19 says:

    I don't think I've cried so hard while reading a book.

  6. cait0716 says:

    Yeah. I was having a bit of trouble with the timing. My understanding is that three month mark is when Michael hangs himself and three months later, the bombing happens. It took me a little while to figure that out though

  7. Arrowgirl says:

    So I wanted to know what some other people thought about this…
    Death said that he carried Mama in one arm and Papa in another. Earlier in the novel, he said that he only carries children in his arms. At first, I thought this was a slip by Zusak, but he doesn’t seem like the type of author to slip like that. Then I thought that it was because Death knew how awesome they were. That theory lasted about 5 minutes, until I realized that Death hadn’t read The Book Thief yet.
    I’ve totally been waiting for Mark to read this chapter so that I can ask people’s opinions.

    • monkeybutter says:

      I hadn't noticed that. Maybe it was a slip-up? Or maybe Hans and Rosa's soft souls reminded him of those of children. Perhaps he was referring to cradling kids' souls, whereas Hans and Rosa were slung under each arm. Good catch, I wish I had a clear answer.

    • cait0716 says:

      I have an opinion, but it involves spoilers. I'll share when we get to the end of the book

    • HieronymusGrbrd says:

      When Death said that he carried (not carries) only children in his arms, didn't he refer to a specific event (Cologne, I think) when there were many deads? He may just have cared more because there was not so much work to do at Molching.

      • ldwy says:

        This is how I interpreted that previous instance-that there were so many, he chose to give the children precedence, in his business. Molching/Himmel Street seems like a small community, so the scale of this must be much smaller.

  8. cait0716 says:

    I've been doing so well holding myself back and reading along with you, but I finished the book last night. After the first chapter, I just had to keep going. Like ripping off a bandaid.

    That was a nice bit of misdirection from Death. He tells us early on that Rudy will die, so we spend the entire book worrying about Rudy. And then he sideswipes us with the death of everyone. Man that was awful.

    And then as soon as everyone dies on Himmel Street, Max comes back. And it just ups the heartbreak, because now he's in a concentration camp. And Death hints that we'll get to see him one more time. But is this more world ending? It felt like Death was just saying "Everyone dies. And you still have to worry about Max"

    This book has all the sad.

  9. Emily Crnk says:

    Even those little segments you include in this are making me feel teary and sick. Oh, Zusak, how do you do this to me?

  10. monkeybutter says:

    Yeah, it's not exactly clear as day, but I think I had learned to expect the worst, and all of the mentions of regret and lost moments made me think everyone was going to die. It was still shocking and sad when the bombing finally happened — I wanted my fears to be wrong — and I had no idea how Liesel would go on from this point.

  11. anninyn says:

    I don't think Mark has reached this bit in the narrative yet. He doesn't know this. Careful.

  12. Katie says:

    And I guess one of the big points of this book is that these are the same bodies in the pavement in the first chapters and in these ones, but in the beginning we feel free to ignore them. We are more interested in the girl and the book and we don't care about the bodies because we know nothing about them. Just like we don't really care about the bodies in the news every day. But when we know their names and their stories, that's when it becomes gutwrenching.

    • widerspruch says:

      Just like we don't really care about the bodies in the news every day. But when we know their names and their stories, that's when it becomes gutwrenching.

      Gosh, that's such an awful truth.

    • Lae says:

      I love your comment – it's heartbreaking but true and I love Zusak's subtlety in communicating this message ): <3

  13. pennylane27 says:

    And this is where I broke down. Sobbing as I rarely have, I finished it. I’m on a bus and I got teary eyed just from reading this. MARKUS ZUSAK HAS DESTROYED MY HEART IN ONE PARAGRAPH. Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

  14. Sparkie says:

    I couldn't believe it when I got to that chapter. I seriously had to stop and re-read to make sure I wasn't going crazy.

  15. lindseytinsey says:

    I read these two chapters today so that I'd be a little ahead of Mark…. Could there have been a worse start to part 10???? I was so shocked. Still can't believe it.

  16. HieronymusGrbrd says:

    I tried to prepare for Rudy, and Rosa, and even Hans. But everybody? Never prepared for this.


    BTW "Jesus, Mary and Joseph" is not like the Germans blaspheme, it's like catholic Bavarians blaspheme. I'm an agnostic Hessian and don't have such words. DAMN AGAIN.

  17. Ellalalalala says:

    This book… this fucking book. Tears and tears and tears and tears. Cannot cope.

    But it is genius. Genius. Creating a streetful of characters who we learn to adore (the Hubermanns; the Steiners), to detest (Frau Diller), to feel for (Tommy Muller; Frau Hopzapfel) …just to indiscriminately destroy them. It's the most eloquent anti-war argument I've ever come across. I'm seriously in awe of Zusak.

    I'm glad other people have had trouble with the timeline of events, because I'm a bit confused. I thought the 98th day was Michael Hopzapfel's death (OH GOD), and we've still got a wee while of respite (/even more inevitable heartbreak) until the bombing… but maybe I'm wrong?

    My heart positively leapt to read Max is still alive …and then oh yes I remember he's being marched to a labour camp what the fuck no I can't cope I'm running away to sea.

  18. Stuart says:

    As if telling us Rudy dying wasn't bad enough, now he tells us that everybody but the main character dies, not that's just cruel and unusual punishment.

    And Christ!, i Just thought of something, if only Liesel survives, then Rudy's entire family dies…what about his father?, he's still fighting the war isn't he? Oh god!

    I'm just going to cry forever now.

  19. widerspruch says:

    I really admire you for being able to stop, Mark, because I don't thik I would've been able to until I read all the chapters left.

    The end of the world, indeed.

  20. enigmaticagentscully says:

    Oh god, this book. I would be so unprepared for the death of just ONE of these characters but to know that all of them die…

    It's just too awful. Liesel literally loses everything good in her life, piece by piece. 🙁

  21. shortstack930 says:

    I can't believe it. I was still not yet prepared for Rudy to die, but to find out that he and nearly every other character we've grown to love will die is so depressing. I really have no clue how this book is going to end, or how it could get any sadder than it already is. And yet in spite of all this sadness, I still love this book.

  22. affableevil says:

    The really awful (and by that AMAZING) thing is that Death has repeatedly been warning us all that terrible things will happen. Hell, the prologue talks about bodies glued to the street by bombs. But no matter how much he tries to prepare us, it is impossible. Re-reads of these passages still hit me just as hard as well.

    "Michael Holtzapfel knew what he was doing.

    He killed himself for wanting to live."

    I'm glad you quoted that because I think it's so beautifully terrible in a bleak, poetic manner. And it strikes me every time.

  23. @Leenessface says:

    Fuck this book sometimes, haha.

    To be honest, I had spoiled myself about everyone dying (I was looking up things about the book like, a year ago, and on wikipedia, the character profiles all say "such and such died in the Himmel Street bombing"), so I knew it was coming.

    Didn't stop me from staying up until 4am and finishing the book in one go and not being able to sleep until like, 6am or something, because I was crying so hard.

    I think this is the first book to make me ugly-cry. I definitely cry at some books (HP), but they're kind of ~gentle~ cries. Book Thief is like, one of those ugly, can't breathe kind of cries.

  24. fantasylover120 says:

    I have a love/hate thing with this bombing. On one hand it gets to you. It's a harsh reality of war that civilians will got bombed and this did happen in WWII a LOT (unforturnately). On the other hand…it kind of felt a little lame? Not totally lame like I said before because I do see a lot of good things about it but at the same time I have to ask what was the point in getting me to care about these people if you're just going to bomb them? This is not just Book Thief I have issues with this type of ending whenever it occurs and it's honestly just a personal thing but really? Again, so I don't get flamed, I don't totally loathe the ending because like I said it gets to you emotionally and it's good writing but at the same time I have issues with it. I will also say there is something rather poetic about her surviving only because she was downstairs reading a book. See? Books do save lives 😉

    • tigerpetals says:

      What's the point of killing them off if the reader doesn't care about them?

      What's the point of being alive and loving people if they're all going to die anyway?

      Happier endings aren't the only ones to have a point. This is meant to illustrate one of the worst things about humanity, war and the willingness to murder. Who would bomb a street named after heaven? Why?

      • Marie says:

        I think you're exactly right in saying this, and I think that's actually a very important idea in The Book Thief – it starts right off with Death telling us we are going to die. Everyone dies, everything ends eventually, but we mustn't think for a minute that makes things unimportant, not worthy of our care. Liesel's life on Himmel street and all the people in it are worthy of our care because of HOW they lived, not how long.

        • Ellalalalala says:

          Agree with both of you so hard. For me, it would be a bit …dishonest if they all survived. Having them all being destroyed in a single moment, with no differentiation between the 'goodies' and 'baddies' and how they lived, with none of them having any power in it, is utterly devastating. And completely true. Getting us to care to much about characters only to kill them off in the futility of war is an excellent example of art imitating life – and of art impacting on how you think about life. It's very easy to dismiss historical deaths as irrelevant, to read And then the Allies bombed Munich in a history book and not feel it. I love (and hate, but love to hate) being made to feel it. And being reminded of how beautiful and harrowing and futile and meangingful life is is crucially important to me!

  25. Phoebe says:

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

    • ldwy says:

      I LOVE VISUAL REFERENCES. They make everything easier to understand.
      This is SO TRUE!!

  26. Gabbie says:

    Heartbreakingly good. So good it's wicked. Wicked enough that you hate it. Hate the characters who will soon die. Hate Death. Hate Mark Zusak, even.
    And then you realize with numb acceptance that it's still heartbreakingly good.

    I give you… THE BOOK THEIF!


  27. canadadian says:

    aseritjaer98ougrjbnaoirghnarkl; ughhhhh I was an absolute mess. I was trying to be quiet because I was still on the school bus, and I somehow managed to do it, but if anyone had looked behind them they would have seen a girl who was completely crying her eyes out.
    Can… can we have a group hug? Please? I think it might make us feel better…

    • Ellalalalala says:

      *HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUG* <- insert enough 'U's to embrace the whole community!

  28. Clueless says:

    Wait… Lissel's (adopted) mother is DEAD?????????
    I read this a year ago and some how I was not able to pick this up (I was a horrible reader back then).
    BRB endless tears for Rosa </3

  29. lilygirl says:

    The time line is spelled out by death in the previous chapter. 3 months of "peace" and 6 months to the end of Liesel's part in this story. In the first three months, we have the hanging, Max marching through town, Rudy and the Mayor wife, ending with the bombing. Then there are three months till the end of Deaths story.
    It should be obvious that everyone is alive when Max is marched through town, and everyone is still alive to witness the hanging. Death just gave us a little forshadowing, as is his wont. As Death as said before, he does not want this to be a mystery so he will tell you everything.
    With all the spoilers, pronounments, jump aheads, you still are Not Prepared, Never Prepared, and can Never Ever stop the tears.

  30. Jess says:

    Mark, I'm reading along with you, and you must READ FASTER, because I don't think I can take this much longer!

    Today was one of those times where I read the chapter and actually thought I'd misunderstood what I'd read, because of course Zusak can't do that to Liesel. Except he can. So unprepared.

  31. pennylane27 says:

    Regarding the timeline. Yes, it was a great night to be Liesel Meminger, and the calm, the warm, and the soft would remain for approximately three more months. But her story lasts for six.

    Hans comes back in April, 1943: For the first ninety-seven days after Hans Hubermann’s return in April 1943….

    Michael hangs himself in July: JULY 24, 6:03 A.M. The laundry was warm, the rafters were firm, and Michael Holtzapfel jumped from the chair as if it were a cliff.

    Max is marched in August: Again, Liesel searched for Max Vandenburg, thinking that he could easily have ended up in Dachau without being marched through Molching. He was not there. Not on this occasion. Just give it time, though, for on a warm afternoon in August, Max would most certainly be marched through town with the rest of them.

    So presumably the bombing is in October?

  32. daisysparrow says:

    DEAR GOD THIS BOOK. You are never prepared. Never ever prepared in a million years, even though Death is a spoiler machine. It still hurts 🙁

  33. erin says:

    First part of this book that actually got tears out of me. Werner dying? Unfortunate, but hey, he's just a character on paper. What do I care. Liesel waiting for her mother's letters? Really fucking depressing, but I didn't choke up. Hans goes off to war? Hardly phased me. We knew he was going to come back. Hearing Rudy was going to die? THAT choked me up, but hey, thanks for spoiling, Death. I just kept thinking it would have been way sadder if it had come out of nowhere, and that took away from the emotion. So there I was, reading along, thinking "Huh, everyone's saying this book is so incredibly heartbreaking, but for a WWII novel, I don't think it's all that-" BAM.

    This chapter. This fucking chapter. Like a sledgehammer to the face. I was sitting calmly in the living room, enjoying the story, and then I was just sitting there with my mouth open in horror, staring blankly at the page, and then I just started sniffling like a baby. And then my roommate and her boyfriend walked in all chipper and laughing, and I had to act like I wasn't miserable. DAMMIT ZUSAK. YOU CAN'T JUST RIP OUT MY HEART WITHOUT WARNING LIKE THAT.

  34. flootzavut says:

    "I wish you didn’t have to see this and experience this. I wish I could just turn back the pages and none of this would have to happen."

    I think one of the genius things about this book is thatmy heart breaks into pieces a million times every time I read it, and I know Liesel is fictional, and I've read it before, and I still just die a little inside when I read it. And I sooooo identify with your wanting to turn the pages back and have it not happen. So many things. And also, so many spoilers, and yet it still hits right where it hurts and it keeps on hurting. You're still not prepared, Mark.

  35. Fran says:

    The laundry was warm and the rafters were firm, and Michael Holzapfel jumped from the chair as if it were a cliff…
    Michael Holzapfel knew what he was doing.
    He killed himself for wanting to live." What page is this quote from?

  36. bunnisteffi says:

    Reading this with/through you is as bad as/even worse than weeping through these deaths myself a year ago.


    I was just as incredulous of Zusak killing off so many of his characters in one fell swoop, then I remembered that in real life, then, this had probably happened enough times, just that we only know them now as figures and town names.

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