I beg to differ

Steal like Liesel

on November 8, 2013

“When life robs you, sometimes you have to rob it back.”

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak is one of my favorite books ever. I honestly love everything about it – the plot, the language style, the characters, the sassy narrator, even the crude drawings.

[Yes, I know the quote above is from the movie. Give me a break though, it’s coming out tomorrow and I was so excited!…until I found out that it’s only coming to a limited amount of theaters, specifically a theater 30 miles away. Sigh.]

Liesel Meminger, the titular character, steals books…because she can.

I hope one day I can be half as intriguing as Zusak is in this book. I don’t know if my English teacher would qualify it as “literary genius” but I certainly think it is. It doesn’t follow the normal rules of novels (that I’ve read). It has sidenotes, handwriting, it picks on the reader, and it relates the effect of harsh Nazi Germany on a delicate child. But while reading this book, you feel like you have a friend; the narrator Death walks beside you, whispering in your ear, holding you by the hand as (spoiler alert!) you walk along the charred path that used to be Himmel Street. He doesn’t let go until you know, you feel, the message of the book: power is nothing without words. Words are life.

This week in English we’ve been working on our essay introductions. My teacher explained different ways we can grab our audience’s attention. We can introduce them to the setting of the essay by using historical context, an anecdote, a larger concept or a thought-provoking question. But there is also another way, “the puzzling scenario”. Here is an example, the first two lines of The Book Thief:

You are going to die.

What better way to warn the reader that this isn’t going to be your average book? Right away, we know two things: the narrator is blunt, and this story has death in it. The “puzzling” part is that we don’t know anything about the characters, the setting, or the plot. In fact, none of that is introduced until the second chapter. In my opinion, the first chapter is there to get familiar with the narrator Death, to see things from his perspective. The powerful truth is that this abstract and unorthodox beginning is the perfect way to draw the reader in and inject them with feels. It transports you Liesel’s callous and unforgiving world.


I’m going to take a page out of Liesel’s stolen book and try to start my essay with a puzzling scenario like Zusak’s. If I can’t steal like a teacher, why not steal like a book thief?


4 responses to “Steal like Liesel

  1. vholler1213 says:

    Ahhh I’ve heard so much about this book and now I have to read it. I like the way you connected it to our introduction paragraphs. I also like your whole blog, good job!

    • It’s my favorite book, at this point ❤ Read it, and then we can talk in APUSH about it! Thank you, your blog is neat too! I haven't gotten the chance to read any of your posts, but I will soon 🙂

  2. Jessie Le says:

    Hey 🙂 so I definitely was still hesitant to read this book, but I think you’ve managed to convince me! I love your image/gif use as well, it definitely keeps the text post alive.

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