Liesel Meminger

Liesel Meminger

    The Book Thief
Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Character Analysis

(Avoiding Spoilers)

Grew Up... in Nazi Germany. As a child, Liesel's father disappeared, and so her mother was forced to send Liesel and her brother to a foster home. However, her brother dies on the train to German, and Liesel arrives at Molching alone and desperately lonely.

Living... with her adoptive parents, Hans and Rosa Hubermann. Hitler may have recently come into power, but with her loving foster parents, Liesel finds Himmel Street a peaceful oasis from the Nazi regime.

Profession... student. Although Liesel can't even read when she arrives in Germany, she's eager to learn and quickly becomes a voracious reader, even stealing books to satisfy her craving.

Interests... writing, books, and messing around with her best friend, Rudy. Liesel and Rudy steal food for their families, but he doesn’t understand her obsession with stealing books. But she knows how powerful words can be.

Relationship Status... single. Rudy seems to be interested in Liesel, but she's less keen on the idea of dating him, telling Rudy that she'll never kiss him, "not in a million years."

Challenge... confronting the coming war. Although Himmel Street might mean "heaven street," it isn't immune to the war. Jews are being paraded through the streets, the Nazis are recruiting for Hitler Youth, and air-raid drills are becoming as routine as trips to the mayor's library – more so, in fact, since most of the Mayor's books have been recently burned. In the midst of all the Nazi rhetoric invading Molching, Liesel can't help but turn on her oldest friend, words: "Why did they have to exist? Without them, there wouldn't be any of this. Without words, the Führer was nothing."

Personality... spirited, compassionate, and curious. When she first came to the Hubermanns, she was stubborn and withdrawn. Now, she’s coming out of her shell, but the world is shutting down. Unlike other members of Molching, she is not taken in by Hitler's anti-Semitic philosophy. Though the events around her soon cause Liesel to lose her rosy view of the world, she maintains her kindness, doing her best to ease the suffering of those around her, German and Jew alike.


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