Middle School, Marion
Dear Markus Zusak,
Your young adult novel, The Book Thief, altered my view of the Holocaust, war, people, and
in general. Initially, I
will be honest, I skimmed
over your book. One night, I picked it up and was enveloped
into a world of survival,
hardship, despair, hard work, longing, friendship, small joys, and love. But that was only the beginning. As I continued reading the novel, it became
more than a story about a lucky, yet unfortunate girl in Germany.
Some people have had very traumatic experiences causing them to relate to Liesel. Although many people can, I can't relate to her in this way.
it showed me a glimpse
of the despair that can be injected
into your life. For Liesel,
it was also adjusting to a new normal, all
at once. Sure, you hear stories of people's
less than ideal experiences and feel sympathy.
This novel made me not just feel sympathy but feel her story.
a result of one traumatic
event after another,
Liesel needed something
to help her cope. Hans,
her adopted father,
gave that to her, by painstakingly teaching
her to read. I use reading for a distraction sometimes too. It
helps me forget
my problems, insecurities, and worries, then traps me in a world where the main focus isn't me.
My love or dependency
on reading, however,
has never been to the degree that I would think of stealing
a new book or poem. Again,
though, I am not in Liesel's
shoes. I can honestly
tell you I don't know if I would steal a book from a book burning. Yes,
I enjoy reading good books, but
I can't tell you if I have the courage
to do so. Yet,
Liesel does and she has earned my admiration for that.
As you know, Ilsa Hermann
witnesses Liesel commit
what their society
thinks as a horrible act. Yet she, as the mayor's wife, doesn't speak a word of it;
she only invites her to her library. The characters of Ilsa Hermann and Hans Hubermann
send great messages, teaching people that they were kind and loving people even though both
were involved in Nazi, Germany.
Thank you for delivering this message. Before reading your book, like many others, I despised all Germans for what transpired. These characters got through to me that there were real people there that were unwilling
participants in this unspeakable event.
Rudy and Max, being other key characters in the story, taught not only Liesel,
but me as the reader, ways of getting through crises both consciously
and unconsciously. Both boys, using their
different perspectives and backgrounds, helped Liesel get through challenging times when her adopted family couldn't.
Rudy and Max
helped Liesel because they were closer to her age and related to her better.
Through this you displayed a message I could relate to. Your novel illustrates the importance of true friends.
The characters really taught me how much I should treasure the true friends I have, and not take them for granted.
Of all of your characters, the one I could relate the most to was Death. Being
an omniscient figure,
it added another dimension to the story. Death
had a conscience and just showed more sympathy and compassion than
you would think a character
that represents such a haunting
and dark part of life would show. Especially with what is going on in the world now, I hope that there
is something or someone like Death caring about and watching over the people who truly need it.
Your novel has so many messages and lessons to take from it. Only after reviewing
the story in my head and analyzing
it, did I realize how much I took from it. The
Book Thief is a truly humbling story.
It not only made me look at the world
differently, but also myself.
The best books make you think; yours
not only did that, but it made me strive to improve myself. I wrote this letter to you to thank you for creating
this wonderful novel. It has helped me to grow up and to realize that looking at the whole picture and accepting what one has is important.
Mary Claire Henricken