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Unformatted text preview: Michael stopped her. “Don’t say anything else. Can I take the girl to read? I doubt my mother will
hear it, but she said for her to come.”
“Yes, take her.”
They were halfway down the path when Michael Holtzapfel remembered himself and returned. “Rosa?” There
was a moment of waiting while Mama rewidened the door. “I heard your son was there. In Russia. I ran into
someone else from Molching and they told me. But I’m sure you knew that already.”
Rosa tried to prevent his exit. She rushed out and held his sleeve. “No. He left here one day and never came
back. We tried to find him, but then so much happened, there was . . .”
Michael Holtzapfel was determined to escape. The last thing he wanted to hear was yet another sob story.
Pulling himself away, he said, “As far as I know, he’s alive.” He joined Liesel at the gate, but the girl did not
walk next door. She watched Rosa’s face. It lifted and dropped in the same moment.
Rosa raised her hand. “Go.”
“I said go.” When she caught up to him, the returned soldier tried to make conversation. He must have regretted his verbal
mistake with Rosa, and he tried to bury it beneath some other words. Holding up the bandaged hand, he said, “I
still can’t get it to stop bleeding.” Liesel was actually glad to enter the Holtzapfels’ kitchen. The sooner she
started reading, the better.
Frau Holtzapfel sat with wet streams of wire on her face.
Her son was dead.
But that was only the half of it.
She would never really know how it occurred, but I can tell you without question that one of us here knows. I
always seem to know what happened when there was snow and guns and the various confusions of human
When I imagine Frau Holtzapfel’s kitchen from the book thief’s words, I don’t see the stove or the wooden
spoons or the water pump, or anything of the sort. Not to begin with, anyway. What I see is the Russian winter
and the snow falling from the ceiling, and the fate of Frau Holtzapfel’s second son.
His name wa...
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- Winter '13