The Book Thief

Why does Rudy seem to love Liesel immediately after they meet, and why does Liesel not recognize that she loves him until years after?

Rudy seems to love Liesel immediately after they meet. Why?

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Rudy is introduced as "one of those audacious little bastards who actually fancied himself with the ladies," and he is an impetuous character. He has a strong sense of justice and compassion, and early on he decides to take care of Liesel, an anxious new girl. Liesel is initially annoyed by Rudy's requests for a kiss, but her feelings towards him begin to change after Rudy gallantly retrieves Liesel's book from the icy cold river. Liesel's fixation on Rudy's physical exam is a rare moment of eroticization in the novel, one which might coincide with Liesel reaching puberty. Two important scenes where Liesel becomes nervous and desirous of Rudy: when Liesel gives Rudy a navy blue suit from his father's store, and when Liesel tells Rudy about Max.