Son, you can't go around painting yourself black, you hear?" "Why not, Papa?" "Because they'll take you away." "Why?" "Because you shouldn't want to be like black people or Jewish people or anyone who is...not us." "Who are Jewish people?" "You know my oldest customer, Mr. Kaufmann? Where we bought your shoes?" "Yes." "Well, he's Jewish." "I didn't know that. Do you have to pay to be Jewish? Do you need a license?" ..... "...you've got beautiful blond hair and big safe blue eyes. You should be happy with that; is that clear?
Summer came. For the book thief, everything was going nicely. For me, the sky was the color of Jews. When their bodies had finished scouring for gaps in the door, their souls rose up. When their fingernails had scratched at the wood and in some cases were nailed into it by the sheer force of desperation, their spirits came toward me, into my arms, and we climbed out of those shower facilities, onto the roof and up, into eternity's certain breadth. They just kept feeding me. Minute after minute. Shower after shower.
Possibly the only good to come out of these nightmares was that it brought Hans Hubermann, her new papa, into the room, to soothe her, to love her. He came every night and sat with her. The first couple of times, he simply stayed - a stranger to kill the aloneness. A few nights after that, he whispered, "Shhh, I'm here, it's all right." After three weeks he held her. Trust was accumulated quickly, due primarily to the brute strength of the man's gentleness, his thereness. The girl knew from the outset that Hans Hubermann would always appear midscream, and... Read more »
We underestimate teenagers at our peril. Even the dismissive thing out on the street--look at what they're wearing. Then we'll hear stories about how a toddler fell on the tracks, and it's often a teenager who comes to the rescue and walks away because he or she doesn't want any credit. I recognize it because I've written books for teenagers--it's basically that they feel things more than adults do. They want things more than you think. They want things with greater depth than you think they do. Teenagers have got a lot of soul that adults have forgotten they have... Read more »
After perhaps thirty meters, just as a soldier turned around, the girl was felled. Hands were clamped upon her from behind and the boy next door brought her down. He forced her knees to the road and suffered the penalty. 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, and more important, he was able to hold her down.
Finally, in October 1945, a man with swampy eyes, feathers of hair, and a clean-shaven face walked into the shop. He approached the counter. "Is there someone here by the name of Leisel Meminger?" "Yes, she's in the back," said Alex. He was hopeful, but he wanted to be sure. "May I ask who is calling on her?" Leisel came out. They hugged and cried and fell to the floor.
I like that every page in every book can have a gem on it. It's probably what I love most about writing--that words can be used in a way that's like a child playing in a sandpit, rearranging things, swapping them around. They're the best moments in a day of writing -- when an image appears that you didn't know would be there when you started work in the morning.
Rudy handed it back. "Speaking of which, I think we're both slightly in for it when we get home. You especially." "Why me?" "You know- your mama." "What about her?" Liesel was exercising the blatant right of every person who's ever belonged to a family. It's all very well for such a person to whine and moan and criticize other family members, but they won't let anyone else do it. That's when you get your back up and show loyalty.