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Unformatted text preview: er mother.
Sometimes she would whisper the word Mama and see her mother’s face a hundred times in a single afternoon.
But those were small miseries compared to the terror of her dreams. At those times, in the enormous mileage of
sleep, she had never felt so completely alone.
As I’m sure you’ve already noticed, there were no other children in the house.
The Hubermanns had two of their own, but they were older and had moved out. Hans Junior worked in the
center of Munich, and Trudy held a job as a housemaid and child minder. Soon, they would both be in the war.
One would be making bullets. The other would be shooting them.
School, as you might imagine, was a terrific failure.
Although it was state-run, there was a heavy Catholic influence, and Liesel was Lutheran. Not the most
auspicious start. Then they discovered she couldn’t read or write.
Humiliatingly, she was cast down with the younger kids, who were only just learning the alphabet. Even though
she was thin-boned and pale, she felt gigantic among the midget children, and she often wished she was pale
enough to disappear altogether.
Even at home, there wasn’t much room for guidance.
“Don’t ask him for help,” Mama pointed out. “That Saukerl.” Papa was staring out the window, as was often his
habit. “He left school in fourth grade.”
Without turning around, Papa answered calmly, but with venom, “Well, don’t ask her, either.” He dropped
some ash outside. “She left school in third grade.”
There were no books in the house (apart from the one she had secreted under her mattress), and the best Liesel
could do was speak the alphabet under her breath before she was told in no uncertain terms to keep quiet. All that mumbling. It wasn’t until later, when there was a bed-wetting incident midnightmare, that an extra reading
education began. Unofficially, it was called the midnight class, even though it usually commenced at around
two in the morning. More of that soon. In mid-February, when she turned ten, Lie...
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- Winter '13