In September and October, I will be leading two discussions of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak for Sandusky District Library‘s One Book, One Community program. The following is a passage in which I found particularly powerful:

“The fallen hours of May 30.

I’m sure Liesel Meminger was fast asleep when more than a thousand bomber planes flew toward a place known as Köln. For me, the result was five hundred people or thereabouts. Fifty thousand others ambled homelessly around the ghostly piles of rubble, trying to work which way was which, and which slabs of broken home belonged to whom.

Five hundred souls.

I carried them in my fingers, like suitcases. Or I’d throw them over my shoulder. It was only the children I carried in my arms.

By the time I was finished, the sky was yellow, like burning newspaper. If I looked closely, I could see the words, reporting headlines commentating on the progress of the war and so forth. How I’d have loved to pull it all down, to screw up the newspaper sky and toss it away. My arms ached and I couldn’t afford to burn my fingers. There was still so much work to be done” (p. 336).