Dear Markus Zusak,
Before I read your book, I've always thought of death with a sinister personality. It's always been a dark, despairing event of life that looms around every corner, waiting to leap out of hiding and snatch me away to Doomsday. It's ready to pounce when I cross a busy street. It leers at me as I ride my bike on a bridge over frothing, dangerous waters on my way to my friend's house. It crouches beneath my bed at night, in case I should stop breathing, or any other possible cause for a fatality.
Death has always been an affair that people are afraid of. And why shouldn't they be? Who wouldn't want to live life to its fullest and dance in the streets while they still can? To cease to exist on this earth? That scares most people out of their minds! However, after reading your book, I realized that Death is not the "bad guy" in the world. It simply acts as a ferryman to the afterlife, like Charon, the Greek mythological god who simply deposits the dead in the Underworld. It has a pale, emotionless whisper of a mind, floating around this world, collecting souls. It has little feeling for anything, just observing and witnessing the world's most celebrated and despairing times ... Like how I react to the T.V.: open-mouthed, brain dead, and unable to function.
When I stepped into Death's world, I saw that it noticed minute details: the color of the sky when a certain someone dies, small items that end up meaning the world to a person, and life stories - biographies of no one particularly special, just a trifling interest, as one might take notice of a particle that floats by their face in the sunlight. A person like Liesel Meminger.
Liesel was adopted during World War II by a German couple with opposite personalities: a soft¬hearted accordion player, and a crude, harsh, mudslinger. Liesel's daily, habitual routines mirrored my own, in a sense: Get up, do some chores, play with friends, come home, get scolded for not doing a chore or something the way it should have been done, read, and, lastly, go bed.
Liesel and I share a tremendous passion for the literary world - books. She sneaks out at night to steal books from Nazi book burnings, the mayor's wife, and various other places. The most I've done to obtain a book was "forgetting" to check a book out of the school library and running out of the place before the librarian could catch me! Scary stuff! As I read the first few chapters of your book, I realized that Liesel's life is kind of like mine: We both love to read books and will do anything to get away with reading!
When Liesel picked up her first book, The Grave Digger's Handbook, she felt a deep connection with it, as I did with your book, Mr. Zusak! When I read about the soccer games in the dirty alleys of Himmel Street, I felt as if I were there with Liesel and her friend Rudy, battling it out until my lungs ached. When Rudy and Liesel ran at the track, I was panting right along side them, tripping over the finish line. When Liesel lost all of her friends and loved ones, I cried until my tears ran out, my eyes were red, and I was physically exhausted.
Your book showed me that we should treasure life while we still can, and to not take anything for granted, because it can be whisked away in a heartbeat. It doesn't tell me to fear Death, but, when the time comes, to accept it as a normal happening in life's constant course. After all, Death isn't the enemy; it's just fulfilling its purpose.