The Book Thief - Markus Zusak

A necklace of sweat had formed around her throat

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Unformatted text preview: joining, Hansi.” “I tried, but I made a mistake—I think they’re still considering.” Liesel wandered toward the mountain of ash. It sat like a magnet, like a freak. Irresistible to the eyes, similar to the road of yellow stars. As with her previous urge to see the mound’s ignition, she could not look away. All alone, she didn’t have the discipline to keep a safe distance. It sucked her toward it and she began to make her way around. Above her, the sky was completing its routine of darkening, but far away, over the mountain’s shoulder, there was a dull trace of light. “Pass auf, Kind,” a uniform said to her at one point. “Look out, child,” as he shoveled some more ash onto a cart. Closer to the town hall, under a light, some shadows stood and talked, most likely exulting in the success of the fire. From Liesel’s position, their voices were only sounds. Not words at all. For a few minutes, she watched the men shoveling up the pile, at first making it smaller at the sides to allow more of it to collapse. They came back and forth from a truck, and after three return trips, when the heap was reduced near the bottom, a small section of living material slipped from inside the ash. THE MATERIAL Half a red flag, two posters advertising a Jewish poet, three books, and a wooden sign with something written on it in Hebrew Perhaps they were damp. Perhaps the fire didn’t burn long enough to fully reach the depth where they sat. Whatever the reason, they were huddled among the ashes, shaken. Survivors. “Three books.” Liesel spoke softly and she looked at the backs of the men. “Come on,” said one of them. “Hurry up, will you, I’m starving.” They moved toward the truck. The threesome of books poked their noses out. Liesel moved in. The heat was still strong enough to warm her when she stood at the foot of the ash heap. When she reached her hand in, she was bitten, but on the second attempt, she made sure she was fast enough. She latched onto the closest of the...
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