80 pages 2 hours read

Markus Zusak

The Book Thief

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 2005

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Important Quotes

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“As I’ve been alluding to, my one saving grace is distraction. It keeps me sane. It helps me cope, considering the length of time I’ve been performing this job.” 

(Prologue, Page 3)

Death is explaining why he sees the day in various colors. This comment establishes the narrator’s tone. He is playful rather than funereal. The reader also gets the first glimpse of Death’s weariness in performing his duties during the war years. 

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“Liesel observed the strangeness of her foster father’s eyes. They were made of kindness, and silver. Like soft silver, melting. Liesel, upon seeing those eyes, understood that Hans Hubermann was worth a lot.” 

(Prologue 2, Page 12)

Liesel’s description is synesthetic. She equates the emotion of kindness with the color silver. Silver is a precious metal, so the comparison is apt, given Hans’s value as a human being. Liesel’s perception parallels Death’s tendency to describe the souls he captures in terms of colors of the day. 

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“The point is, it didn’t really matter what that book was about. It was what it meant that was more important.” 

(Prologue 3, Page 13)

When Liesel steals her first book, she can’t even read yet. The subject matter is also not relevant to her life. As Death suggests, Liesel doesn’t judge books for their content. She gravitates to them because of their emotional associations with events in her life.