What is The Book Thief about?

The Book Thief is about a young girl's experiences in Nazi-controlled Germany in the early 1940s. Liesel Meminger faces death and loss numerous times and recognizes that Hitler is ultimately responsible for her pain. As a young girl, she is fairly powerless to change the course of events in her town, yet she demonstrates strength in her ability to cope with ongoing conflict.

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Narrated by Death, this is the story of the Nazi regime's effect on characters who live in the fictional town of Molching, Germany, in the early 1940s.

Liesel Meminger is the central focus of the story. When the story opens, she is forced to live with Hans and Rosa Hubermann. Hans shows her great kindness and even teaches her to read, but Liesel's relationship with Rosa is quite strained. Hans sits with Liesel through the nightmares which plague her, and she grows to associate him with safety.

As the Nazis gain power and prominence around Molching, tension increases. Liesel is required to join the Band of German Girls, and her friend and neighbor Rudy is required to join the Hitler Youth. When Molching citizens gather to burn books to celebrate Hitler's birthday, Liesel steals a book from the fire; she does not share feelings of loyalty to Hitler because she recognizes that he is ultimately responsible for the absence of her mother and the death of her brother.

Hans agrees to hide Max Vanderburg, a Jewish man, in the basement of their home to fulfill a debt Hans owed to Max's father. Max fascinates Liesel with the stories he shares with her at night, and she makes great efforts to keep Max in touch with the outside world while he is in hiding.

Air raids begin to present a more imminent threat in daily life, and the family learns that their basement cannot fully protect them from the bombs. Soon, Liesel sees Jews being marched to Dachau and is grieved for their suffering. The family is ripped apart when Hans is sent away to serve in an air raid unit.

In October 1943, Himmel Street, where Liesel lives, is bombed. Although she survives, she must face the death of many people she cared about. Liesel goes on to live a long life, becoming a wife, a mother, and then a grandmother. In the end, Death comes to retrieve Liesel from her life, perplexed by the lightness and darkness in human potential.

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