Death introduces himself as the narrator of the novel. The first time he saw the book thief, he says, was on a train.
The next time he saw her was when he came for a pilot who had crashed his plane. And the third time was after a bombing. He associates a color with each sighting: white, red, and black, the colors of the Nazi flag. Death then begins the story.
Liesel, her mother, and her brother Werner are traveling on a train to Munich when Werner suddenly dies. Liesel and her mother get off the train to bury the body, and Liesel steals a book from one of the gravediggers. She and her mother continue their journey to a town called Molching, where Liesel will be raised by foster parents, Hans and Rosa Hubermann. Slowly, Liesel adjusts to her new life, though she is plagued by nightmares of her dead brother. She meets and befriends a neighborhood boy named Rudy, who worships the American athlete Jesse Owens and constantly pesters Liesel to kiss him.
Meanwhile, the political situation in Molching and throughout Germany is becoming serious, with war escalating and food and work shortages at home.
Liesel begins delivering laundry for Rosa. Frau Hermann allows her to read in the study. Meanwhile, in Stuttgart, a German Jew named Max hides in a closet with no food, light, or water. When Max arrives in Molching, Hans and Rosa hide him in the basement.
The Book Thief
As he recovers from his ordeal, he and Liesel become friends, and Max writes her a book on the painted-over pages of MKPF. Liesel is furious because her family is already struggling to survive and the Hermanns have so much. For Christmas, Liesel builds Max a snowman in the basement. When Max gets sick and falls into a coma, Hans and Rosa worry about how they will dispose of the corpse if he dies. After months, Max recovers.
The Book Thief Summary
Nazi soldiers arrive and inspect the basement to see if it is deep enough for a bomb shelter. Frau Hermann leaves her a dictionary and thesaurus with a note saying she knows Liesel has been stealing from her.
At a Hitler Youth carnival, Rudy wins three races. As the war intensifies, Nazi soldiers begin parading Jewish prisoners through town on their way to the concentration camp at Dachau.
When Hans sees an old man struggling to keep up with the group, he gives him a piece of bread. Nazi soldiers intervene and whip both the man and Hans.
Hans realizes he has aroused suspicion and drawn attention to himself, and Max is no longer safe in the basement.
The Book Thief Summary
Hans waits for soldiers to come take him away, but none do. The soldiers leave, but a few days later both Alex and Hans are drafted into the German army.
After Alex and Hans leave for duty, Rudy and Liesel go to the next parade of Jews and scatter bread in the streets. Hans is sent to Essen, where he is part of a squad that cleans up after air raids.
The Book Thief Summary & Study Guide
Another member of the squad takes a dislike to Hans, and one day he insists they change places on their work bus. The bus crashes and the other man is killed, while Hans merely breaks his leg. Hans gets sent home to recuperate. Following another air raid, Liesel and Rudy find an Allied fighter pilot who has crashed his plane. They arrive just in time to see him die.
Prologue and Part 1 Summary
Liesel tells Rudy about hiding Max. She had never told anyone before. One night, while Liesel is in the basement editing her book, her neighborhood is bombed. Hans, Rosa, Rudy, and the rest of the neighbors are killed. Liesel goes to live with the mayor and his wife.
The Book Thief
After the liberation of the concentration camps, Max returns to Molching and finds Liesel. They hug and cry together.
The Book Thief - Markus Zusak (Book Summary)
Liesel eventually grows up and moves to Australia, where she has a family and lives to an old age. When Death finally comes to take her soul, he shows her the book she wrote so many years before.
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Summary Plot Overview. Next section Prologue and Part One. Questions Can You Answer Correctly?
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