|Name||Liesel Meminger †|
|Age||9 (at the start of the book).
15 (toward the end of the novel).
About 76 (when she died - people assume she died around 2005)
|Birthday||February 1929-1930 (not specified)|
|Hair||Blonde ("the ideal shade of German blonde")|
|Eyes||Brown ("dangerous brown eyes")|
|Alias||Saumensch (by Rosa Hubermann and Rudy Steiner)
Book Thief (by Rudy Steiner)
|Location||33 Himmel Street, Molching, Germany - Hubermann's house (during almost the entire book)
Sydney, Australia (during her life after the War)
|Family||Werner Meminger (brother) †
Paula Meminger (mother)
Hans Hubermann (adoptive father) †
Rosa Hubermann (adoptive mother) †
Hans Hubermann Jr. (adoptive brother)
Trudy Hubermann (adoptive sister)
|Allies||Rudy Steiner (best friend / love interest) †
Max Vandenburg (close friend)
|Appearances||The Book Thief (protagonist)|
“I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.” Liesel Meminger
Liesel's father and mother were communist. Her father was taken away and the same was about to happen to her mother. In order to save her children, Liesel's mother gives up both Liesel and her little brother Werner. On the train ride to their new foster home, Liesel's brother dies. Liesel and her mother make a funeral for him. One of the gravediggers leaves a book on the snow. Liesel gets it, even though she doesn't know how to read.
Liesel arrives at her new home and is introduced to Hans and Rosa Hubermann. She immediately likes Hans, her adoptive/foster father. With him, Liesel begins to learn how to read and write, and they even write words down on the basement walls.
Rudy Steiner, her neighbour, becomes Liesel's best friend. They become really close to each other, playing together and stealing books for Liesel. Rudy doesn't quite share her same interest in reading as she does, which makes them an odd duo.
Throughout the story, she receives books for Christmas or her birthday, which she is grateful for.
When her family hides Max Vandenburg, a Jewish man, inside their house, Liesel makes him feel comfortable by: cutting his hair for him, stealing newspapers for him, giving him the weather report every day, telling each other their dreams, and painting pictures on the basement walls.
When Himmel Street was bombed, Liesel was in the basement of her house, writing her story, so the bombs didn't kill her. Anyways, her family and her friend Rudy Steiner did not survive. Liesel kissed Rudy right before he died. That was her first kiss.
In the end of the war, Max visited Liesel. He survived the holocaust! We don't know more about their relashionship after that.
After the War, Liesel moved to Sydney, Australia, where she lived until her death. She died with children and grandchildren. Her husband is not known.
Liesel has a close enough hair color to the ideal shade of German blonde and dangerous dark brown eyes. She has long, fast legs and is said to be rake-skinny. Liesel is competitive, compassionate and determinated to achieve the impossible.
In The Book Thief book, Liesel Meminger meets Rudy Steiner at the Himmel Street soccer game. Their first encounter didn't go to well for instance after Liesel blocked Rudy's goal he threw a snowball at her face.
"A snowball in the face is surely the perfect beginning to a lasting friendship." Death when Liesel and Rudy met
The next day Rudy gave Liesel a tour around town [such as the apartment and floor of the building that Tommy Muller (who has very bad ear infection) lived, pointed out a man called Pfiffikus, and showed her Frau Diller's Shop].
Rudy challanges Liesel for a run, and says that, if he wins, she would have to kiss him. They drew, so Liesel didn't kiss him, but, since that moment, Rudy starts asking for a kiss, all the time.
"How about a kiss, Saumensch?" Rudy to Liesel
Liesel and Rudy's friendship grows pretty fast considering they both like each other, even though their way of showing is a little weird (Rudy is always calling Liesel a Saumensch and Liesel calls Rudy a Saukerl).
“What about it, Saumensch?”
"What about what?"
Liesel responded in the usual fashion. "Saukerl", she laughed, and she walked the short distance home. A disconcerting mixture of mud and pity was one thing, but kissing Rudy Steiner was something entirely different.
Smiling sadly on the step, he called out, rummaging a hand through his hair. “One day,” he warned her. “One day, Liesel!” Liesel and RudyRudy, "the boy who refuses to fear the opposite sex", loves Liesel from the moment he meets her. His love grows and grows to the bitter end (both friendly love and romantic love).
"The only thing worse than a boy who hates you: a boy that loves you.” Death about Rudy SteinerLiesel does not tell Rudy about the books she steals, in the beginning of their friendship, until one day, when Rudy follows her and finds it out. Liesel is afraid that Rudy denounces her, but he does not. Moreover, Rudy starts helping her sometimes and calling her a «book thief».
The day he rescues The Whistler (one of Liesel's books) from the Amper River, Liesel's refusals hurts too much to bear, and he stops asking for a kiss.
"In truth, I think he was afraid. Rudy Steiner was scared of the book theif's kiss. He must have longed for it so much. He must have longed for it so much. he must have loved her so incredibly hard. So hard that he would never ask for her lips again and would go to his grave without them.” Death about Rudy SteinerLiesel loves Rudy as a best friend. After she's whipped on the street along with Max Vandenburg, she wants Rudy to kiss her. But this desire might have been born of all sorts of conflicting emotions. Romantic interest was surely one of them, but not necessarily as romantic as Rudy's love for her. Her feelings for him are never precisely revealed.
Liesel is fourteen when Rudy dies. Rudy is fourteen, too, but seems much more sure of his feelings for her. We have a hard time imagining him falling out of love with Liesel at any point, but that might just be because he'll be forever fourteen in our eyes. Before he dies, Liesel tells Rudy that she loves him and kisses him on the lips. That's the only kiss they share.
"Rudy, please, wake up, Goddamn it, wake up, I love you. Come on, Rudy, come on, Jesse Owens, don't you know I love you, wake up, wake up, wake up..." Liesel to Rudy
“She leaned down and looked at his lifeless face and Liesel kissed her best friend, Rudy Steiner, soft and true on his lips. He tasted dusty and sweet. He tasted like regret in the shadows of trees and in the glow of the anarchist's suit collection. She kissed him long and soft, and when she pulled hersel away, she touched his mouth with her fingers. Her hands were tremblin, her lips were fleshy, and she leaned in once more, this time losing control and misjudging it. Their teeth collided on the demolised world of Himmel Street.” She did not say goodbye. She was incapable, and after a few more minutes at his side, she was able to tear herself from the ground." Liesel kissing Rudy
"He'd have been glad to witness her kissing his dusty, bomb-hit lips." Death about RudyAfter Rudy's death, Liesel enters the Amper River (the river where Rudy rescued her book, the day he stoped asking for a kiss) with all her clothes on. She's heard talking about a kiss and saying the word "Saumensch". Liesel's moment in the river and her kissing Rudy's lips when he's dead definitely suggest that she regrets not kissing him before.
Max writes books for Liesel about all that she has done for him and about how her words and her tears are able to save him and give him strength. Max's book, The Word Shaker, describes how Liesel's words give him strength and have the ability to cut down forests of hate. He boxes the Führer in the basement and is constantly aware of how the Führer manipulates the crowd with his words, turning the entire audience on Max in his daydreams as well as in reality.
He and Liesel become great friends during their time together.
After the War, Max visits Liesel. He survived the holocaust. We don't know more about their relationship after that.
Hans Hubbermann is Liesel's adoptive/foster father. Hans, is an incredibly kind, decent and patient man, and he easily wins over Liesel's affections after she comes to the Hubermann household. He does this through several different acts of kindness, all of which help Liesel to feel loved, supported, and okay with who she is.
Liesel is afflicted with horrible nightmares about her brother's death. Every single night, she sees his body in her dreams again, and wakes up screaming from the trauma that created within her. Hans, every single night, goes in to her and comforts her while she calms down and is able to go back to sleep. He hugs her, speaks soothing words, listens to her, and stays with her for hours. This helps Liesel to feel loved instead of like a burden. Hans demonstrates total patience and love for her through this hard time.
“Possibly the only good to come out of these nightmares was that it brought Hans Hubermann, her new papa, into the room, to soothe her, to love her.Also, Hans teaches Liesel how to read and write - Liesel, who doesn't know how, snatches books that Hans then patiently teaches her to decipher. He does this during their nightime nightmare hours, and also in the basement, using Hans' paints to teach her how to write. He is incredibly patient, as this is a very difficult and slow process, and he never shows frustration with Liesel's slow progress. One last way that Hans shows love is by shielding Liesel from the more gruff style of Rosa, joking with Liesel, and teaching her through example how to respond to Rosa's rather unconventional way of dealing with her.
He came every night and sat with her. The first couple of times, he simply stayed - a stranger to kill the aloneness. A few nights after that, he whispered, "Shhh, I'm here, it's all right." After three weeks he held her. Trust was accumulated quickly, due primarily to the brute strength of the man's gentleness, his thereness. The girl knew from the outset that Hans Hubermann would always appear midscream, and he would not leave." about Hans Hubermann
“Papa!” she whispered. “I have no eyes!”At Christmas, when they have no money, he even finds a way to get her a book. His music is another key to establishing a relationship with Liesel. He loves to play music for her. Hans proves himself worthy of her love even more, when he takes a stand by honoring a favor to someone and helping the Jewish man by hiding him.
He patted the girl’s hair. She’d fallen into his trap. “With a smile like that,” Hans Hubermann said, “you don’t need eyes." When Hans draws Liesel
Liesel gets really sad when Hans is called to fight in the War. She can't stop thinking about him (what happened, if he was okay, if he would he come back...). When Hans came back she felt really happy again.
Overall, Hans is a stabilizing and life-saving force in Liesel's life, one that allows her to overcome the difficult circumstances that she has faced, and be strong. Hans is the older father that Liesel has not known before.
Rosa Hubermann is Liesel's adoptive/foster mother. When Liesel first arrives at Rosa and Hans' home, Rosa is pretty abrasive and arrogant. She always calls Liesel a «Saumensch» and other things, but she loves her anyways.
"What are you arseholes looking at?" Rosa to the people who were watching Liesel when she first arrived
“In fact, you could say that Rosa Hubermann had a face decorated with constant fury. That was how the creases were made in the cardboard texture of her complexion.” Death about Rosa HubermannHowever, Rosa becomes a very important and influential person in Liesel's life. Max arrives and brings out her softer side, in the same way Liesel brings out Hans'. In turn, Liesel and Rosa's relationship improves, and Liesel sees the difference in her.
Rosa and Liesel never find the same kind of relationship she has with Hans, but Rosa does provide Liesel with a sort of motherly comfort, and she is a great example for her foster child.
When Liesel finds Hans and Rosa's bodies, both dead, she cries a lot, showing that she actually cared a lot about both of them.
Liesel's brother is Werner Meminger. He did not make it to Molching, where he and Liesel would be fostered by the Hubermanns. He died on the train while going to the Hubermann's house, in the beggining of the story (January 1939) with pneumonia. Werner was 6 when he died. In his funeral, Liesel found a copy of The Gravedigger's Handbook on the ground.
We don't know much about his relationship with Liesel before he dies, but from the extent of her grief, we can imagine they were close. Liesel is haunted by the memory of Werner and consistently experiences nightmares about his death for months after arriving in Molching. At one point, Liesel thinks to herself that in her mind, Werner will be six years old forever.
Paula Meminger Edit
We know very little about Liesel's mother, except that she's a very tragic figure. She lost her husband and gave up for adoption both of her children (Liesel and Werner) before disappearing herself.
Liesel's father was taken away by the Nazis for being a Communist, and Paula meets the same fate. As Liesel comes to realize, by giving her daughter away, Paula saves her from persecution.
Throughout the novel, Liesel thinks a lot about her mother. She even writes letters to her. Rosa and Hans don't want to tell Liesel that her mother is probably dead, so they pretend they try to send those letters. Liesel becomes sad when she finds it out, but, when she grows up, she understands why her mother couldn't answer or visit her.
Paula cried a lot when Werner died and in his funeral, and was an amazing person by giving their children for adoption (so they could have a better life), so we can admit she loved her children a lot.
The Books Edit
Liesel, the orphaned protagonist of Markus Zusak's The Book Thief, steals a total of nine books throughout the novel:
- The first is The Grave Diggers Handbook, stolen on January 13, 1939, the day Liesel's brother dies, and the day she last sees her mother. With it, Hans Hubermann, her foster father, teaches her how to read.
- The second is Faust the Dog, by Mattheus Ottleberg, received as a Christmas gift, paid for by cigarettes.
- The third is The Lighthouse, by Ingrid Rippinstein, also received at Christmas, and paid for by cigarettes.
- The fourth is The Shoulder Shrug, "stolen" from a bonfire of banned books on April 20, 1940. The mayor's wife witnesses the theft.
- The fifth is Mein Kampf ("My Struggle"), written by the Fuhrer himself, Adolf Hitler.
- The sixth is The Whistler, given by the mayor's wife on the day she fires her laundress, Liesel's foster mother. Enraged, Liesel threw it back, but later decided to keep the book only if she could steal it. In November 1941, she and her best friend, Rudy, sneak into the mayor's residence to steal the book, almost getting caught in the process. Viktor Chemmel, their enemy, threw it into the icy river, but Rudy gallantly retrieved it.
- The seventh is The Dream Carrier, stolen because the title of the book reminded Liesel of the dreams she shared with Max, the Hubermann's secret, because Jewish, houseguest.
- The eighth is Song in the Dark, stolen because Liesel didn't have a green book in her collection, and because the insignia of a flute between the title and the author's name appealed to her. This was the first book she stole without Rudy's assistance.
- The ninth and last book is The Complete Dulden Dictionary and Thesaurus, left on the window ledge by Liesel's secret admirer, the mayor's wife.
The Book Thief Edit
The Book Thief is the name of the book Liesel writes over the period leading up to the bombing of Himmel Street. It's the book Death rescues from the garbage and returns to Liesel when she dies. It's the book that literally saves her life. If she hadn't been editing it in the basement on the night of the Himmel Street bombing, she would have died along with everybody else. The concentration Liesel summons points again to her strength of character. Her ability to find a positive outlet for her emotions also says a lot about her. Of course, she didn't just decide to write a book all on her own. She has a little help from Ilsa Hermann. This points to the irony of the title.
"She was the book thief without the words.Ilsa gives her the blank book after Liesel has given up book thievery and books in general. Though we're sure she reads again, her book marks her graduation from reader to serious author. What we want to know is if Liesel writes more books when she grows up, and if not, why.
Trust me, though, the words were on their way, and when they arrived, Liesel would hold them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out like rain.” Death about Liesel Meminger