The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is an amazing work of literature set in the WWII era. It is a story about an illiterate girl named Liesel who loses everything she has and bounces back from that. The story starts off with Death narrating. Liesel Meminger is a ten year old girl traveling to the small town of Molching Germany with her little brother and mom.They are going to go live with their new foster parents Hans and Rosa Hubermann because their mom is no longer able to care for them.Tragedy strikes when Werner(Liesel’s little brother) dies on the train due to cold,sickness,and starvation.
Once the family gets to Molching they have a funeral for Werner. One of the young men digging the grave had a book fall out of his pocket into the snow. When the funeral was over Liesel picked it up.
..it was titled “The Gravedigger’s Handbook”,the only problem was that Liesel cannot read. Liesel is weary to enter the hubermann household but is lured in by Hans,who immediately forms a bond with her. Rosa on the other hand is witchy because Liesel’s brother isn’t there.
The next day Liesel goes to school and struggles in class because she can’t read. Kids bully her and call her names because she couldn’t read a sentence when the teacher calls on her.Then she meets Rudy who stand up to the kids and becomes Liesel’s best friend. One night when Liesel has a nightmare about her brother dying Hans finds “The Grave Diggers Handbook” in Liesel’s mattress.
He asks her to read the title and discovers that she cannot read, this inspires him to teach her how to read and write. They practice every night and pretty soon Liesel can read and write. One day Liesel decides she is going to write her mom a letter. She sends many letters but never gets a letter back. Hans and Liesel soon discover that her mom has just disappeared.
She then later discovers that her mother and father were communist and Hitler was behind their death. On a very strange night Hans took Liesel to a book burning,as Hitler yelled that he would kill all the Jews and Communists,Liesel remembered when her father was accused of being a communist.That was the night when her eyes were opened and she realized what a Nazi really was.now that Liesel can read and write she is deeply disturbed that they are burning all of these books. When Hans confirms that Hitler was behind her parent’s death Hitler becomes her sworn enemy. Hans warns her not to voice her opinion in public because she would be killed. This leads Liesel to steal her second book “The Shoulder Shrug”from the burning pile of books.
Hans gets a letter in the mail from his old friend’s son. Hans’s old friend was named Erik Vandenberg,he actually died while saving Hans during World War 1.Erik’s son is named Max,but there is something special about Max. He is a Jew,the Nazis started to look in houses on his street for Jews.Hans set up a way for Max to blend in and be able to come to his house.
Since it was illegal to harbor Jews, Hans and Rosa hide max in their basement. Leisel doesn’t feel comfortable around Max but very quickly warms up to him and brings him 13 presents. They are a deflated ball, a ribbon, a pine cone, a button, a stone, a feather, two newspapers, a lolly pop wrapper, a cloud, a toy soldier, a leaf, and a finished whistler ( a book she stole and read to him).
In return he wrote a book called “The Standover Man”,it is about how he felt growing up and how his life was completely changed when he met her.This is when she forms a strange friendship with the mayor’s wife Ilsa Hermann because Ilsa sees Liesel steal the book “The Shoulder Shrug”. Rosa does the laundry for the mayor and his wife so Liesel reads every time she goes to drop off clothes. When the mayor and his wife no longer need Rosa to do their laundry,Liesel begins to crawl through the window and steal books. One day Rudy sees her climbing in the window and asks her what she was doing,after she explained Rudy helped her. The funny thing is Ilsa watches them and doesn’t care that they steal from her library.One day the family went to the parade and saw all the Jews marching down the road.
Hans went to go give a man some bread and got himself and the Jew whipped.Hans feared that the Nazis would come to his house because they suspect him as a criminal harboring Jews,so he made max leave for the safety of his family.No Nazis came that night of for the next few nights,but one day they came and Hans was worried. The Nazis went to Rudy’s house instead,they wanted to recruit him but his father went to the army instead.a couple days later Hans was drafted as a punishment for trying to give the Jews bread,he went to work in the clean up crew for the towns that were bombed. He saw some very horrible things,for example,he traded seats with a young man and then the truck ran over a mine and the young man was the only one who died. Liesel didn’t know what she would do because Max left and now Hans is gone too.
She does her best to move on,she reads to the people in the bomb shelter during air raids,steals alot of stuff with rudy,and helps Rosa. Another parade came through town Liesel sees Max, he was captured 5 months after he left the Hubermann household. A guard saw Liesel talking to Max and whipped them both.
Rudy rushes in and saves Liesel’s life by stopping her from continuing to follow Max. A letter came in the mail,Hans broke his leg so he was being sent home. Liesel and Rudy were playing on the bridge and Liesel’s book fell into the river. Rudy went to go get it but drowned in the process. The current was just too strong. Ilsa gave Liesel a blank book when she gave up on reading.
one night Liesel was in the basement writing the story of her life,the title was “The Book Thief”, everyone was asleep except Liesel. A bomb landed on their house and killed everyone she loved. The police found Liesel the next morning and didn’t know what to do with her. Then Ilsa showed up and took Liesel home.
Liesel grew up and had many children, Max survived the concentration camp and met Liesel when she was grown up.when Liesel died Death finished her story as he peeled her soul from her body.