The Positive Effects of Hardship in Exposing Hidden Talents in Book Thief by Marcus Zusak and Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

In the face of adversity, people can experience drastic transformations in their everyday lives. As the Roman poet Horace once said, hardship has the effect of bringing hidden talents and skills to light. This is evident in fictional novels, nonfiction works, and even the lives of the people around us.

Firstly, in the novel “Book Thief”, the protagonist, Liesel, discovers her love for reading as a way of escaping the everyday horrors she was forced to experience as a young child–the horrors of Nazi Germany.

In her lifetime, she witnesses much tragedy–the horrific treatment of the Jews, the poverty her family endures, and even the public burning of her beloved books. She is witness to much difficulty and destitution within her community, even watching her brother die as a result of sickness from malnutrition. After his burial, Liesel stumbles across a book previously belonging to one of the gravediggers. She is immediately fascinated and begins teaching herself how to read, and discovers that she can find shelter from suffering in the words.

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After the death of her brother, her mother realizes she can no longer take care of Liesel and meet the basic needs for keeping a child alive. Liesel is forced to move into an adoptive family, uprooting everything she knows. She is not even given the opportunity to visit with her birth mother, the one who raised her for so many years. The books Liesel begins stealing and hiding away in her room become her sanctuary from the cruelty of the outside world.

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When her new family begins hiding a Jew in their home, Liesel befriends him, and they begin to share their love for reading. To cope with the obstacles and cruelty they are faced with, Liesel and her new companion find a shared talent in reading forbidden books.

Furthermore, in Malcolm Gladwell’s nonfiction work “Outliers”, he depicts the struggle of the world-famous rock’n’roll band The Beatles and shows how it eventually paved their way to success. Gladwell explains the poverty and hardship the Beatles initially faced, and shows that because of this, they were forced to play long hours, sometimes more than 8-hour gigs every day–and how this experience brought out their inner skills and gave them a chance to improve. This very challenge- poverty- was the exact opportunity the Beatles needed to expose their talents and take the initiative to refine them. They were desperate for money, and were thus willing to perform shows longer than a normal person’s work day without a break. Of course they were already talented, but they were not able to access their full potential until they were given this hidden opportunity. This real-life instance proves Horace’s quote, showing how The Beatles’ success is indeed caused by the adversity they faced. If the Beatles hadn’t been poor, they would not have had the extensive practice opportunity they received, and they certainly would not have become the household name they are today By the same coin, I myself have witnessed firsthand how adversity can bring out latent traits and skills in a person in the event of a chaotic divorce such as my mother’s. She had been married for 17 years before she came to the startling realization that she could not take it anymore–the emotional abuse, manipulation, lying, yelling. The constant tension, walking on eggshells– always wondering what would set him off. Tiptoeing around him so he wouldn’t degrade her in front of her children. As one can imagine, 17 years of this can take a toll on a person. She was left exhausted, drained of all energy and happiness. He had taken everything from her. The day that she decided to finally break free would mark the beginning of a journey into hell, but it would also begin the process of recovery, and mold my mother into a stronger and more resilient person than she had ever been before. The first few months and even the first year would end up being the greatest trial of her patience and faith in herself, but it is this exact challenge that provided her with the tools and experience she needed to blossom into something all-powerful. This test of perseverance forced her to be assertive, decisive, and self-confident enough to stand up for what she believed was right for herself and her children. To this day, she wishes the process had been easier, but she is thankful for what it taught her. She now knows that she is valuable as a person and that she should stand up for herself and what she knows is right. From her divorce, she learned how to be confident, persistent, and fierce.

In conclusion, the obstacles and hardship we face throughout our lives has the ability to make a huge impact on us in a positive way. This impact often has a huge influence on the people we become now and later in life. This effect is evident in novels, nonfiction, and the people who surround us day after day.

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The Positive Effects of Hardship in Exposing Hidden Talents in Book Thief by Marcus Zusak and Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. (2022, Apr 20). Retrieved from

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