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Unformatted text preview: rough the crowd, to meet
the procession. The voice amazed her. It made the endless sky into a ceiling just above his head, and the words
bounced back, landing somewhere on the floor of limping Jewish feet.
They watched the moving street, one by one, and when Liesel found a good vantage point, she stopped and
studied them. She raced through the files of face after face, trying to match them to the Jew who wrote The
Standover Man and The Word Shaker.
Feathery hair, she thought.
No, hair like twigs. That’s what it looks like when it hasn’t been washed. Look out for hair like twigs and
swampy eyes and a kindling beard.
God, there were so many of them.
So many sets of dying eyes and scuffing feet.
Liesel searched them and it was not so much a recognition of facial features that gave Max Vandenburg away. It
was how the face was acting—also studying the crowd. Fixed in concentration. Liesel felt herself pausing as she
found the only face looking directly into the German spectators. It examined them with such purpose that
people on either side of the book thief noticed and pointed him out.
“What’s he looking at?” said a male voice at her side. The book thief stepped onto the road.
Never had movement been such a burden. Never had a heart been so definite and big in her adolescent chest.
She stepped forward and said, very quietly, “He’s looking for me.”
Her voice trailed off and fell away, inside. She had to refind it—reaching far down, to learn to speak again and
call out his name.
“I’m here, Max!”
“Max, I’m here!”
He heard her.
MAX VANDENBURG, AUGUST 1943
There were twigs of hair, just like
Liesel thought, and the swampy eyes
stepped across, shoulder to shoulder
over the other Jews. When they reached
her, they pleaded. His beard
stroked down his face and his mouth
shivered as he said the word,
the name, the girl.
Liesel shrugged away entirely from the crowd and entered the tide of Jews, weaving through them till she
grabbed hold of his arm with her left hand.
His face fell on her.
It reached down as she tripped, and th...
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- Winter '13