The Book Thief Summary

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak


This is a book about a young girl and endurance told to the reader by Death. Death meets the young girl, Liesel and her mother as he takes the soul of Liesel's brother. It is at his funeral where she sees a dropped book and takes it. This is how she becomes a book thief.

Liesel is on her way to Munich to be placed with foster parents Rosa and Hans Hubermann, who live in Molching. Liesel meets Rudy Steiner and the two of them become friends.

Hans is kind to Liesel, so one night after she has wet the bed, it is Hans who helps her clean up the sheets and he finds the book she stole. Instead of becoming angry, he asks her if she wants to learn to read. Nine-year-old Liesel doesn't know how to read, but she is an eager student and soon learns to read.

It is Christmas in 1939, Germany has gone to war, but the family still celebrates the holiday. Liesel's present is two books; she is overcome with joy at the thought of having new books to read.

On Hitler's birthday the town celebrates by burning books and other things. Liesel sees some of the books in the fire have not been burned completely, so she takes one.

During the rally at the bonfire, Liesel realizes her birth father, who was a communist, was an outcast. Hans tells her her birth mother has probably been taken away on orders from Hitler. Liesel starts to hate Hitler.

Hans often plays his accordion for Liesel, which she enjoys. The accordion is the key piece to the story of Max Vandenburg and Hans Hubermann. During World War I Hans meets a German Jew named Erik Vandenburg, Max's father, he teaches Hans how to play the accordion. One day, Erik volunteers Max for office duty, while Erik and the rest of the men go into battle. No one returns from the battle and Hans is given Erik's accordion, which he tries to return to Erik's family after the war. Erik's wife doesn't want the instrument, but Hans feels he has to do something, so he tells her if she or her son ever need anything they should contact him.

Many years later, Max needs a place to hide from the Nazis. Hans and Rosa give Max a place to stay.

It is also during this time that a friendship is established between the mayor's wife and Liesel. It is the mayor's wife who saw Liesel take the book at the bonfire and now she allows Liesel to read books from her library.

Liesel is told in no uncertain terms she cannot tell anyone about Max. She understands and then she befriends the lonely Max. On her birthday she gives Max a hug, in return he makes her a book about how all his life he was afraid of men standing over him, but now he knows a girl standing over him is a friend, because she was there when he woke up in Hans' house.

Rudy rescues Liesel's book, which has been thrown into the river by a bully. Rudy is always getting into trouble, whether it is stealing from farmers, talking back at Hitler Youth meetings, or trying to help a friend in need.

Meanwhile, Liesel, because she is angry with the mayor's wife for taking away Rosa's clothes washing job, returns the book given to her by the mayor's wife. She instead, sneaks into the house and steals the book.

As the basement became colder with the onset of winter, Max becomes very ill. He is unconscious for a long time, but finally he wakes up. The war is coming closer to Molching and soldiers are measuring all the basements to see if they can become air raid shelters. Luckily Liesel warns her foster parents and Max is safe. The neighbor's house is chosen for the shelter.

Rudy notices one day a dictionary and thesaurus leaning on the window at the mayor's house. It was left there on purpose for Liesel. She is still stealing books from their library and the mayor's wife is not upset about it.

One day a group of Jews are paraded through town. Hans tries to give one of them some bread, but he is whipped for his actions and Max has to leave the Hubermann house. Several days later, Hans is informed he is being inducted into the army. Rudy's father also has to serve in the army, because he will not allow the Gestapo to take Rudy away to a special school.

While serving with the LSE division, the truck Hans is riding in has a flat tire and goes out of control, one man is killed and Hans brakes his leg. This is good news, because Hans is sent home to rest.

A few months after Hans returned home, a bombing raid hit Himmel Street, everyone except Liesel is killed. She is taken to live with the mayor and his wife. Rudy's father comes home and after a while he reopens his former business, where Liesel often helps him.

One day a man comes into the business asking for Liesel. It is Max, he has survived the concentration camp and can now start his life over.

Death comes for Liesel when she is an old woman. She has had a full life and she is surprised to see that Death has a present for her. The day of the bombing on Himmel Street, Liesel had been in the basement working on her book, The Book Thief. Death picked the book up and took it with him, now he is giving it back to her.

This book is about how a young girl survives horrific circumstances and tries to make life better for herself and those around her. It shows how the love of her foster parents, Rudy, and Max make a difference in how she sees the world around her. It is a story of endurance.



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