Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Book Thief Read Along Discussion One: Parts 1-3

Hey everyone! How's the reading going for this most awesome book? I hope those reading for the first time are loving it and those re-reading it are loving it even more than the first time!

So.. welcome to the first discussion of our read along! To begin with, I thought I'd do a quick recap/summary of the first three parts that we were to read by today. I think I've done pretty well keeping it relatively spoiler free even!

Part One
  • We are introduced to nearly all the main characters, including Death the narrator.
  • We learn a little about Liesel's background.
  • Liesel steals her first book.
  • Death seems impressed by Liesel and we have yet to know why.
  • Liesel can't read and starts learning how with Hans' help.
  • Leisel learns about the Jesse Owens incident.
  • Rudy asks for a kiss for the first time.
  • Liesel beats up two boys at school and in turn gets two beatings from the teacher.
  • The war starts.
Part Two
  • Hitler's birthday celebration
  • But first Liesel gets two books for Christmas.
  • Then she writes letters to her mom, but it doesn't go well.
  • Rosa gets mad, but says, "I'm sorry" (and not about getting mad.)
  • Liesel begins walking the laundry delivery route alone.
  • Liesel steals her second book from the birthday bonfire.
  • She learns who "they" are, voices her opinion out loud and Hans freaks out.
  • Someone watched her steal the second book.
Part Three
  • We meet Max for the first time.
  • We really meet the mayor's wife for the first, and her library too.
  • Liesel continues to discover the power of words.
  • Liesel and Rudy start a thievery career.
  • Liesel's world is about to change... again!
  • Rudy continues to ask for kisses, Liesel continues to deny him.
And with that, we are just getting started! Things are going to get crazy from here on out!

And now for some questions! Feel free to write a post of your own answering the questions (any or all of them!) and then come back here to link up so we can all easily see who is participating with a post.

However, if you don't feel like writing a post (or don't have a blog, or are participating unofficially!) then answer questions in comments... which I will now declare NOT spoiler free. Feel free to discuss anything without worrying about spoilers... for the first three parts of the book anyway. No spoilers for anything beyond that!

Also, don't forget to join us on Twitter TOMORROW (Wed) at noon (I changed the time to a little later, but I'll be on earlier just in case you come at the original time!) to chat there. Use the hashtag #bookthief and let's talk!

Okay, here are the questions, followed by my own answers and then the linky. Have fun!

Some questions:

1. What's your first impression of Death as a character/narrator?
2. What's your first impression of the unique writing style?
3. Which character stands out to you the most so far and why?
4. What do you think the author is trying to say about the power of words?
5. How do you feel about all the foreshadowing that's going on?
6. Also, how do you feel about all that German swearing?!? 
7. What do you think about the relationship between Hans and Rosa?
8. What do you think about the relationship between Rudy and Liesel?
9.  What are your feelings on the politics of the time that we've seen so far?
10. What images and/or symbols stand out for you in this story so far?

My thoughts and answers:

1. I love Death. He creeps me out a little, he's a little strange, but I find him to be quite emotional and sympathetic to us dying humans. I love how he is touched by certain humans, Liesel in particular, and he makes me anxious to know more. However, he does have a flair for the dramatic with all that crazy foreshadowing!!

2. When I read this the first time, it took me awhile to get used to this writing style. And I have no idea how to describe it.....very poetic, lots of imagery and personification, a little choppy in bits, much narrator interruption. simple short sentences, etc. It was strange. But in the meantime and having read Markus Zusak's books over and over and over again, I can now say without a doubt... I absolutely LOVE it. Love love love.

3. Hmmm... I think Hans stands out as a character who has the most patience in the world. I mean, to teach a kid to read in the middle of the night? And to deal with Rosa? Right? But right now, I'm especially curious about both Mr. Mayor's Wife and Max. I can't wait to see what's up with them. This time around, I'm going to picture Max much younger in my head. The first two times I read this I think I thought of him as too old.

4. I think he wants us to think of words as the very THING that moves worlds... and wars.... and life and people. Words are IT. Words truly are the power behind everything. It's mind blowing.

5. The foreshadowing makes me CRAZY!!! The first time through this book I was like GAH.... you are KILLING ME with this! Please make it stop! The second time through I was like... I KNOW I KNOW! Let's not go there!! And now, I'm really noticing how much there really is. Wow. It's insane.

6. And the German swearing makes me laugh. 'Course, I don't know German so it's quite tame in my head. I find it interesting that they actually use these words as terms of endearment. I wonder if that's how it is in real life over there?

7. Hans and Rosa area  funny couple. It appears that they are just tolerating each other, but I think deep down their love for each other is a real, tangible thing.

8. Rudy and Liesel seem to be playing at being a couple, but they are truly the most awesome of friends. I feel like Rudy is just teasing Liesel about the kissing thing. At first that is. Then.... things change. Ah, do they ever change.

9. This book made me think for the first time what it might have been like for Germans during this war. They weren't the bad guys. They were normal people who HATED what was happening and they had no way to stop it. They had to go along with it to save themselves and their families. I just can't even imagine how hard it would have been. And what makes a government so powerful as that? It's a crazy thing to see.

10. Liesel's mom carrying the memory of her dead son on her shoulder, Liesel stealing a burning book and hiding it in her coat even as the smoke is billowing out, Rudy running around the track covered in mud as an imaginary crowd cheers him on, two kids taking turns sucking on a piece of candy, the alphabet painted all over a basement wall....and.... I'll stop there for now!

Please link up with your answers on your posts!
Don't forget to come chat tomorrow at noon Mountain time!
Read parts 4-6 by Sept. 20!!


  1. My discussion post for this will appear tomorrow, so I'll add my link then. Unfortunately, I won't be able to make the twitter chat....darn!

    1. Melinda: I'll be watching for it! Sorry about the chat, but you can come and add your two cents any time. I'll be watching the hashtag...

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Oh no, it seems I have participated in my first read-along all wrong! I didn't realise there would be questions to answer and have just written my thoughts any old way! Though they do touch on a lot of the questions you have raised so I will go ahead and add my blog link!

      I found your point about how the German population must have felt during this time to be interesting. It seems that a lot of the characters in this novel are only pretending to be Nazi supporters in order to save themselves and their families. But there are some characters who truly seem to believe in the Nazi ideology of a German race, such as Hans' son, which is quite disturbing.

    2. There's really no right or wrong way! The questions are there in case you need a little push to starting thinking! I hope you are enjoying the read along experience!

  3. I totally should have read your post before I did mine, and then I could have "borrowed" some of your symbols. :)

    I also like the point that there was a lot of diversity of thought among Germans and a lot of reasons why they felt they had to go along with things no matter how they felt. It's such a scary thing to think about.

  4. I have still just started the book, and trying to get used to Death as the narrator. But I am enjoying it.

    1. Julie: You'll get used to him! Keep it going!

  5. I never thought I could like Death so much. You know what I mean! What an intriguing and captivating read this has been so far. Thanks for getting me to read! :)

    1. Lo: So glad you've joined us! And so glad you are liking it so far.

  6. Oops! I thought we were discussing here, too, not on our blogs. . . and I'm all scheduled out, so you'll just have to make do with my comments here!

    I really like Death as a narrator. He's omniscient and actually friendly. Strange, I know, but I like him in the only way you can like Death, I guess! I also like Liesel a lot. She is just such a fun character. There's a lot of talk about her being not-so-smart, but I don't think that's true. I think that she's just slower than her peers due to lack of exposure. She hasn't been taught to read properly.

    I think the Max story is interesting, too, and I can't wait to keep reading his story and seeing where it goes.

    Rudy is interesting too. I keep wondering when he's going to win Liesel over! I know it will happen!!!

    Can't wait to keep reading and see how it goes!!!!

    -Rebecca @ Love at First Book

    1. Rebecca: Discussing here is perfect! Whatever works for everyone.

      I agree Death is friendly. A strange little dude for sure. Ah, and Rudy... he BETTER win her over! And fast! I look forward to reading more about Max too, I seem to have forgotten his details in all the reads I've done of this book.

  7. Here are my answers. Thanks!


  8. Great questions! I'm having so much fun with this book :) I couldn't think of any symbols but the ones you mention include a lot of my favorite imagery from the book. Thanks for hosting!

    1. DD: So many things, images and picture and colors, stand out to me in this book. It was fun to list a few. I could have gone on and on. Thanks for participating!

  9. These are such great questions. They really got me to think. I'm SO glad I found this read along because it got me to finally sit down and read this book! And I'm LOVING it!

    1. Britney: And I'm SO GLAD to hear that! I'm loving that you are loving it!

  10. I just answered the questions. My post will appear tomorrow. Yay! (I'm a little late, though, lol.)

    I think the swearing is funny too. And, I wonder if they use them as a term of endearment or if that was just a poetic license that Marcus took when he wrote the book. I wonder.



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