Welcome to Week 3 of the Online Book Club discussion of The Book Thief.
At the beginning of this section, we learn how Max and Hans formed a connection with each other. What did you think of their connection? It's just weird to think how little decisions can have big consequences. When Max's dad volunteered Hans for letter writing duty, he had no idea that he was saving Hans's life and effectively losing his own. And then, the fact that that whole exchange would be so important decades later for Max is just incredible.
What did you think of the story that Max wrote over top of the Mein Kampf pages? It was sweet that Max and Liesel made such a connection with each other so quickly. Even though Liesel is so young, she seems so wise and able to see good in other people. Wasn't it just so sweet that she would bring a weather report and crosswords to Max in the basement? I especially liked when she and the family made a snowman in the basement. Check out the movie clip below if you want to see how the snowman scene played out on screen.
At the beginning of Part 5, Death makes a comment about Rudy dying. Did that make you wary to keep reading? It made me really sad to think about one of my favorite characters not making it to the end of the book. It made me examine every interaction he and Liesel had, and it made me feel on edge not knowing what exactly was going to happen to him. Do you wish you wouldn't have had those types of foreshadowing throughout the book? I hated at the end of Part 5 when Death brings up Rudy's death again, saying that Rudy went to his grave without a kiss. Even though he rescued Liesel's book from the water. It just made me so sad to read those parts.
One of the most affecting parts of this section was the imagined speech between Max and Hitler in the boxing ring. It was incredibly hard to read Hitler's speech on page 254. In the speech, he turns the crowd against Max and gives a hateful diatribe against Jews, manipulating the audience into thinking that Max and the other Jews are somehow dangerous. It was hard to read because the manipulation was subtle but so effective, and even though this particular speech was imagined, I'm sure Hitler made countless other speeches just like the one in the book, and those speeches caused innumerable deaths. I just felt so sad while reading that part.
What did you think of the way Liesel treated the mayor's wife? Were you surprised when she started stealing books from that house? Can you believe she is so desperate to get her hands on books?
Did you think Max was going to die when he got so sick? Did you prepare yourself to read about what they would do with his body if he did die? I thought for sure he was going to die. I'm really glad he didn't, though.
At the end of this section, the Nazis come to the Hubermann's door, but they don't find Max. Mostly, this is due to Liesel's quick thinking. Wasn't your heart in your throat the whole time, worrying that Max would be uncovered? Then, in the very last chapter, Death talks about all of the destruction and souls he finds at the concentration camps. Zusak ends the chapter by saying, "They were French, they were Jews, and they were you" (pg. 350). What a weighty but important way to end a chapter. It's good to remember, when reading these fictional accounts of war, that actual human beings were tortured and died. The characters in these books aren't just characters--they represent real people who were human beings, just like you or me. I thought that was a good reminder. The death in this book isn't just a plot point; instead, it reminds us that real people with real families died unjustly.
Are you ready to keep reading? What do you think will happen in the last section? Are you wary to keep reading since you know death is coming for some of the characters? I can't wait to hear what you thought of this section. I hope you'll let me know your impressions in the comments. Finish the book for next week!