Plot Summary

     The Book Thief is told from the perspective of Death, who encounters Liesel Meminger three times and carries her story around because it is one of the few he finds extraordinary. The experience begins when Liesel’s mom is on a train with Liesel and her little brother, Werner, to drop them off at a foster home, but Werner dies on the ride there. At his burial, the gravedigger drops the book, The Gravedigger’s Handbook, and Liesel steals her first book. When she arrives at her new foster family, Hans and Rosa Hubermann, in the town of Molching, she’s scared, but then warms up to the small German town. Hans is loving and caring towards Liesel, acts as a fatherly figure, and helps her adjust to her scary new life. Rosa, however, is strict toward Liesel and always yells at her, but that is just her way of showing affection. Liesel also makes her best friend, Rudy Steiner, who ends up falling in love with her.

    Liesel learns to read from Hans and reads The Gravedigger’s Handbook, and begins to steal more books from book burnings, and mostly from Ilsa Hermann’s library. Then, the Hubermann’s take in and hide a Jew, Max Vandenburg, who’s father saved Hans in World War I. Liesel becomes very close with Max, until he leaves because he is putting the Hubermann’s in too much danger. Max leaves, but not without leaving Liesel with a token of his friendship with her, his journal, containing the story, The Word Shaker. Max’s story tells the tale of a girl (Liesel) who fought Hitler using her words, and about how Max and her’s friendship is stronger than Hitler. Liesel witnesses Max again in a parade of Jews going to the concentration camp. Liesel starts to write her own life story entitled, The Book Thief. Then, the bombings start, and people of Molching hide in bomb shelters, where Liesel reads her books to them to pass the time. Not soon after, Hans and Alex Steiner are drafted into the war to fight, but Hans is forced to return because of a wounded leg.

    The bombings continue, but none that are very fatal to Molching. Liesel continued to read, write her life story and steal with Rudy. Rudy continued to hunt for Liesel’s love, which she persisted in dissapointing him. One day while Liesel is writing her book in the Hubermann basement, a bomb hits Molching straight on. She luckily survives because she was in the bsement, but all the other people on Himmel Street get caught in the bombs. She wanders around and finds all of her beloved friends and family dead and drops her written book, which is where Death finds it. She is taken in by Ilsa Hermann and her husband. When Alex Steiner returns from the war, she keeps him company in his tailor shop since his family is dead. Eventually, Max returns and is reunited with Liesel. She dies of old age and then Death returns her book to her, which he has carried around and told her story from.