The Book Thief Study Guide

The Book Thief

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

In The Book Thief, Death narrates the story of Liesel, a young girl living in Nazi Germany. While living with her foster parents, Liesel becomes embroiled in a world of secrecy as the family shelters Max, a Jew hiding from the Nazi regime. Living in a war-torn world, Liesel learns to read, periodically stealing books when she gets the chance and sharing her love of words with Max. This novel demonstrates the power of words to provide an escape from even the most horrific of circumstances, and explores both the kindness and the cruelty of humans as they face the realities of war.

  • She leaned down and looked at his lifeless face and Liesel kissed her best friend, Rudy Steiner, soft and true on his lips. He tasted dusty and sweet. He tasted like the regret in the shadows of trees and in the glow of the anarchist’s suit collection. She kissed him long and soft, and others and when she pulled herself away, she touched his mouth with her fingers. Her hands were trembling, her lips were fleshy, and she leaned in once more, this time losing control and misjudging it. Their teeth collided on the demolished world of Himmel Street.
  • [First lines] Here is a small fact: You are going to die. I am in all truthfulness attempting to be cheerful about this whole topic, though most people find themselves hindered in believing me, no matter my protestations. Please trust me. I most definitely can be cheerful. I can be amiable. Agreeable. Affable. And that's only the A's. Just don't ask me to be nice. Nice has nothing to do with me.
  • How about a kiss, Saumensch?
  • He stood waist-deep in the water for a few moments longer before climbing out and handing her the book. His trousers 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 grave without them.
  • [Rudy protecting Liesel from Nazi soldiers] Hands were clamped upon her from behind and the boy next door brought her to the ground, knees-first. He collected her punches as if they were presents. Her bony hands and elbows were accepted with nothing but a few short moans. He accumulated the loud, clumsy specks of saliva and tears as if they were lovely to his face. More importantly though, he held her down.
  • I am haunted by humans.
  • I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality, but what could I tell her about those things that she didn't already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race- that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant. None of those things, however, came out of my mouth. All I was able to do was turn to Liesel Meminger and tell her the only truth I truly know. I said it to the book thief and I say it now to you. I am haunted by humans.
  • I carried [Rudy] softly through the broken street...with him I tried a little harder [at comforting]. I watched the contents of his soul for a moment and saw a black-painted boy calling the name Jesse Owens as he ran through an imaginary tape. I saw him hip-deep in some icy water, chasing a book, and I saw a boy lying in bed, imagining how a kiss would taste from his glorious next-door neighbor. He does something to me, that boy. Every time. It's his only detriment. He steps on my heart. He makes me cry.
  • His soul sat up. It met me. Those kinds of souls always do - the best ones. The ones who rise up and say "I know who you are and I am ready. Not that I want to go, of course, but I will come." Those souls are always light because more of them have been put out. More of them have already found their way to other places.
  • A human doesn't have a heart like mine. The human heart is a line, whereas my own is a circle, and I have the endless ability to be in the right place at the right time. The consequence of this is that I'm always finding humans at their best and worst. I see their ugly and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both. Still, they have one thing I envy. Humans, if nothing else, have the good sense to die.

You'll need to sign up to view the entire study guide.

Sign Up Now, It's FREE
Source: WikiQuote, released under the Creative Commons Attributions/Share-Alike License