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The Book Thief Parts 7-10 and Epilogue

October 6, 2023

The final section of this novel was heartfelt and emotional. The war escalates and families experience food and work shortages. Max paints over pages of a book he brought with him and writes his own story for Liesel, The Standover Man, which is a heartfelt story about his past and his friendship with Liesel. Bombings get closer to Molching and people take shelter in a neighbor’s basement. To calm everyone, Liesel reads aloud while everyone silently waits for the safety sirens. 

As time passes and the war intensifies, Jewish prisoners begin being paraded around town on their way to the concentration camp at Dachau. Hans sees an old man struggling and gives him some bread, however, a Nazi spots him and whips both the old man and Hans. Hans soon realizes that he’s drawn attention to himself, putting Max in danger. Max leaves Hans and Rosa’s house, making Hans feel extremely guilty. Hans worries that Nazis will come to inspect him, instead, they go to the Steiner’s home. They want to recruit Rudy for a school for future Nazi leaders. Rudy’s father, Alex, refuses to let them take Rudy. A few days later, Alex and Hans are drafted into the army. At the next parade of Jews, Rudy and Liesel scatter bread in the streets for the Jews. Upon seeing how distraught Liesel is about losing Max, Rosa decides to give Liesel the book Max wrote for her called The Word Shaker.

After another air raid, Liesel and Rudy find the crashed plane of an Allied fighter pilot. They arrive just as he is about to die, and they try to offer some support and comfort. Death sees Liesel for the second time while collecting the pilot’s soul. The Nazis continue marching Jews through the streets and Liesel finally finds Max in one of the crowds. Liesel tells Rudy about hiding Max in her basement, which she had never told anyone before. 

The book has a beautiful, yet tragic ending, ultimately fitting the overall nature of the novel in a very poignant way. This was an incredible read, one from which I think everyone would benefit. Often in learning about World War II, it’s easy to associate all of Germany with evil. This story opened my eyes to the fact that not everyone in Germany was bad. Many of the people were like us, trying to find peace in a chaotic world. I recommend this novel, especially to those who enjoy learning about the Second World War and historical reads.

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