The Book Thief, written by Mark Zusak, is narrated by death as he follows the life of a haunting girl named Liesel Meminger.
Death encountered Liesel at three different times; once when her brother died, once when an airplane crashed, killing the pilot, and lastly, when air raid bombs destroyed her entire street. When death first saw Liesel, her brother and she were on their way to their new foster family, who lived in Molching on a street called Himmel, because her mother could no longer take care of them. Unfortunately, her brother got sick and died on the way, leaving Liesel to say goodbye to both her mother and her brother. When Liesel’s brother was being buried, she stole her first book, The Grave Digger’s Handbook, even though she never learned how to read. Her foster parents went by the names Hans and Rosa Hubermann. At first, she did not like either of them, but after some time she warmed up to living with them, forming a close relationship to Hans. Liesel starts attending school in her new town, where she is put down and seen as unintelligent because she cannot read or write.
She had a hard time makes friends, except for a boy named Rudy. Rudy is her next-door neighbor, who constantly pesters Liesel for a kiss he will never receive. After some time, Hans realizes Liesel does not know how to read or write, prompting him to teach her, even though he has little education of his own. They start midnight class and Hans creates a word wall in their basement where Liesel can write all the words she learns from reading.
The town holds a book-burning for Hitler’s birthday where she steals her second book, unknowing that the mayor’s wife, Ilsa Herman, is watching her. To help her mother out, Liesel begins delivering the laundry to the customers, including the mayor and his wife. One day while delivering, Liesel is invited into the Herman’s house and is shown their library, where she is given the opportunity to read whenever she wants. But, after a few reading sessions after delivering the laundry, Ilsa tells Liesel she can no longer have her laundry done because of money issue. This makes Liesel angry because she sees how much money that family has and know that they could afford it, so Liesel starts stealing books from them. Ilsa Hermann knows that Liesel is stealing and leaves a dictionary and a notebook for Liesel to write in.
Liesel loves the notebook that Ilsa Hermann gave to her, she wrote in it late at night when she couldn’t sleep. During this time, a new visitor arrives, a Jewish man named Max. Max and Liesel quickly form a close relationship as he hides in their basement. The war is getting more intense and Hans makes a critical mistake that forces Max to leave the basement and sending Hans into the war. One day Liesel and Rudy discover a crashed airplane with a dying pilot inside, prompting deaths second encounter with her. The Nazi’s start parading the Jews throughout the streets and Liesel spots Max, forcing her to tell Rudy about the time when they were hiding him. One particular night she was writing in the basement when bombs were dropped on Himmel Street, devastating it.
This is the last time death saw her alive, she was one of the only survivors on the street. Liesel was forced to say goodbye to everyone she loved, becoming an orphan for the second time. She again finds a new family, with the mayor and his wife. After the liberation of the concentration camps, Max returns to Liesel. Liesel eventually moves from Germany, starts her own family and lives a long, good life.
When death finally comes to collect her soul, he returns to her the book, titled The Book Thief, that she was writing in the basement the night the bombs fell.