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Unformatted text preview: ven to her. All told, she owned fourteen books, but she saw her story as being made up
predominantly of ten of them. Of those ten, six were stolen, one showed up at the kitchen table, two were made
for her by a hidden Jew, and one was delivered by a soft, yellow-dressed afternoon.
When she came to write her story, she would wonder exactly when the books and the words started to mean not
just something, but everything. Was it when she first set eyes on the room with shelves and shelves of them? Or
when Max Vandenburg arrived on Himmel Street carrying handfuls of suffering and Hitler’s Mein Kampf ?
Was it reading in the shelters? The last parade to Dachau? Was it The Word Shaker? Perhaps there would never
be a precise answer as to when and where it occurred. In any case, that’s getting ahead of myself. Before we
make it to any of that, we first need to tour Liesel Meminger’s beginnings on Himmel Street and the art of
Upon her arrival, you could still see the bite marks of snow on her hands and the frosty blood on her fingers.
Everything about her was undernourished. Wirelike shins. Coat hanger arms. She did not produce it easily, but
when it came, she had a starving smile.
Her hair was a close enough brand of German blond, but she had dangerous eyes. Dark brown. You didn’t
really want brown eyes in Germany around that time. Perhaps she received them from her father, but she had no
way of knowing, as she couldn’t remember him. There was really only one thing she knew about her father. It
was a label she did not understand.
A STRANGE WORD
She’d heard it several times in the past few years.
There were boardinghouses crammed with people, rooms filled with questions. And that word. That strange
word was always there somewhere, standing in the corner, watching from the dark. It wore suits, uniforms. No
matter where they went, there it was, each time her father was mentioned. She could smell it and taste it. She
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- Winter '13