We underestimate teenagers at our peril. Even the dismissive thing out on the street--look at what they're wearing. Then we'll hear stories about how a toddler fell on the tracks, and it's often a teenager who comes to the rescue and walks away because he or she doesn't want any credit. I recognize it because I've written books for teenagers--it's basically that they feel things more than adults do. They want things more than you think. They want things with greater depth than you think they do. Teenagers have got a lot of soul that adults have forgotten they have within themselves.
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My friends ... they usually rib me about how I just sleep in and watch Oprah and that I don't really have a proper job. I've given up arguing now, so I just agree with them, even though half the time I realise I've started work before they have. Still, it's best to keep the romantic idea alive. If they call around midday and ask if they woke me, I always say yes.
Finally, in October 1945, a man with swampy eyes, feathers of hair, and a clean-shaven face walked into the shop. He approached the counter. "Is there someone here by the name of Leisel Meminger?" "Yes, she's in the back," said Alex. He was hopeful, but he wanted to be sure. "May I ask who is calling on her?" Leisel came out. They hugged and cried and fell to the floor.
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I could introduce myself properly, but it's not really necessary. You will know me well enough and soon enough, depending on a diverse range of variables. It suffices to say that at some point in time, I will be standing over you, as genially as possible. Your soul will be in my arms. A color will be perched on my shoulder. I will carry you gently away.
Summer came. For the book thief, everything was going nicely. For me, the sky was the color of Jews. When their bodies had finished scouring for gaps in the door, their souls rose up. When their fingernails had scratched at the wood and in some cases were nailed into it by the sheer force of desperation, their spirits came toward me, into my arms, and we climbed out of those shower facilities, onto the roof and up, into eternity's certain breadth. They just kept feeding me. Minute after minute. Shower after shower.
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I carried [Rudy] softly through the broken street...with him I tried a little harder [at comforting]. I watched the contents of his soul for a moment and saw a black-painted boy calling the name Jesse Owens as he ran through an imaginary tape. I saw him hip-deep in some icy water, chasing a book, and I saw a boy lying in bed, imagining how a kiss would taste from his glorious next-door neighbor. He does something to me, that boy. Every time. It's his only detriment. He steps on my heart. He makes me cry.
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His soul sat up. It met me. Those kinds of souls always do - the best ones. The ones who rise up and say "I know who you are and I am ready. Not that I want to go, of course, but I will come." Those souls are always light because more of them have been put out. More of them have already found their way to other places.
As she watched all of this, Liesel was certain that these were the poorest souls alive. That's what she wrote about them . . . Some looked appealingly at those who had come to observe their humiliation, this prelude to their deaths. Others pleaded for someone, anyone to step forward and catch them in their arms. No one did.
After another ten minutes, the gates of thievery would open just a crack, and Liesel Meminger would widen them a little further and squeeze through. ***TWO QUESTIONS*** Would the gates shut behind her? Or would they have the goodwill to let her back out? As Liesel would discover, a good thief requires many things. Stealth. Nerve. Speed. More important than any of those things, however, was one final requirement. Luck. Actually. Forget the ten minutes. The gates open now.
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There was once a strange, small man. He decided three important details about his life: 1. He would part his hair from the opposite side to everyone else. 2. He would make himself a small, strange mustache. 3. He would one day rule the world. ...Yes, the Fuhrer decided that he would rule the world with words.
I carried [Rudy] softly through the broken street... with him I tried a little harder [at comforting]. I watched the contents of his soul for a moment and saw a black-painted boy calling the name Jesse Owens as he ran through an imaginary tape. I saw him hip-deep in some icy water, chasing a book, and I saw a boy lying in bed, imagining how a kiss would taste from his glorious next-door neighbor. He does something to me, that boy. Every time. It's his only detriment. He steps on my heart. He makes me cry.
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On many counts, taking a boy like Rudy Steiner was robbery-so much life, so much to live for-yet somehow, I'm certain he would have loved to see the frightening rubble and the swelling of the sky on the night he passed away. He'd have cried and turned and smiled if only he could have seen the book thief on her hands and knees, next to his decimated body. He'd have been glad to witness her kissing his dusty, bomb-hit lips. Yes, I know it. In the darkness of my dark-beating heart, I know. He'd have loved it all right. You see? Even death has a heart.
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A SMALL PIECE OF TRUTH I do not carry a sickle or scythe. I only wear a hooded black robe when it's cold. And I don't have those skull-like facial features you seem to enjoy pinning on me from a distance. You want to know what I truly look like? I'll help you out. Find yourself a mirror while I continue.
A human doesn't have a heart like mine. The human heart is a line, whereas my own is a circle, and I have the endless ability to be in the right place at the right time. The consequence of this is that I'm always finding humans at their best and worst. I see their ugly and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both. Still, they have one thing I envy. Humans, if nothing else, have the good sense to die.
Death's Diary: 1942 - It was a year for the ages, like 79, like 1346, to just name a few. Forget the scythe, God damn it, I needed a broom or a mop. And I needed a holiday. (...) They say that war is death's best friend, but I must offer you a different point of view on that one. To me, war is like the new boss who expects the impossible. He stands over your shoulder repeating one thing, incessantly. 'Get it done, get it done'. So you work harder. You get the job done. The boss however, does not thank you. He asks for more.
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