Prologue & Part One

Liesel’s brother dies as they travel toward Munich. Liesel and her mother get off the train and bury him, and then continue their journey to where Liesel’s new foster parents live. With Hans and Rosa, Liesel is plagued by nightmares, enrolled in the Hitler Youth, and meets her neighbor Rudy Steiner. Hans shows Liesel how to read a book.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Prologue & Part One

Part Two

Carts of materials considered unsympathetic to the Nazi Party are wheeled in the town square to be burned. Liesel connects what happened to her parents to Hitler and his policies, even telling Hans that she hates Hitler, which forces him to warn her against saying such things in public. Liesel notices a book that has not been burned and sneakily steals it.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Part Two

Part Three

The mayor’s wife, Frau Hermann, saw Liesel take the book, so Liesel takes time to build the courage to go to the mayor’s house. Once there, she is invited inside and marvels at the library filled with books. When she is not reading or delivering laundry, Liesel plays with Rudy. The narrative switches to a Jewish man named Max who awaits an identity card and comes out of hiding to board a train. He follows a map that leads him to Hans and Rosa’s house.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Part Three

Part Four

The story flashes back to World War I, when Hans was a young soldier. He befriended a German Jew named Erik who taught Hans to play the accordion. After Erik died in battle, Hans tracked down Erik’s widow and said he would help if she ever needed anything. Max, Erik’s son, was forced to hide for two years until his friend brought him the key to Hans’ house. Max and Liesel become friends, and he gives her a handmade book.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Part Four

Part Five

Frau Hermann tells Liesel that they can’t afford to pay her for laundry, but she gives an open invitation to read in her library. Liesel is outraged. After Rudy is terrorized by his Hitler Youth leader, Liesel takes him to the mayor’s house, where she steals a book. When they return to the gang of children who steal apples, the group leader sees the book in Liesel’s hands and throws it in the river, fueling Rudy to jump in and save it for her.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Part Five

Part Six

Max falls into a coma. Liesel reads a book to Max in the hopes that he will wake up, but he doesn’t. Liesel goes with Rudy to the mayor’s house and steals another book. Max finally wakes up from his near-death. Nazi soldiers arrive in town to check basements for hideaways. Liesel intentionally injures herself during a game so Hans can take her home and warn Max.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Part Six

Part Seven

Liesel steals a book propped in the mayor’s window and discovers it is a dictionary with a letter from Frau Hermann inviting her to continue stealing books. Liesel, Hans, and Rosa take shelter in a neighbor’s house during bombing raids, leaving Max behind. Liesel begins reading aloud during the raids. After Hans is assaulted for trying to help another Jewish man, he knows he is drawing suspicion and Max isn’t safe. Max disappears.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Part Seven

Part Eight

Rudy’s father refuses to let them take Rudy to a Nazi training school. Hans is to be drafted into the German army, but before he leaves, he tells Liesel to take care of Rosa and his accordion while he’s gone. Rosa gives Liesel a book that Max left for her with a story called “The Word Shaker,” a collection of sketches Max wrote about his life and Liesel’s.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Part Eight

Part Nine

Death narrates a fated afternoon at war when Reinhold Zucker insists that Hans trade places with him in the truck, but when the truck goes off the road, Hans suffers a broken leg while Zucker breaks his neck and dies. A doctor examines Hans and says he will be sent back to work in an office. After a bombing ends, Liesel and Rudy approach the body of an enemy pilot barely alive in the wreckage, and Death recognizes Liesel from the train where her brother died.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Part Nine

Part Ten

Liesel finally sees Max in a group of prisoners and tries to talk to him, but she is whipped by soldiers. Frau Hermann gives Liesel a blank book so she can write her own story. Death reveals that Liesel’s street will be bombed and he will collect the souls of the victims, which will include Rudy, Rosa, Hans, and many others, but not Liesel. As the workers lead Liesel away from the bodies, Liesel leaves the book she wrote, “The Book Thief,” in the rubble.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Part Ten


Death reveals that Liesel will eventually die at an old age with a big family. Liesel, having no family after the bombing, is taken to the mayor’s house. Months later, when Rudy’s father returns, Liesel spends time in his reopened shop. Max finds his way back to the shop and has an emotional reunion with Liesel. When Death finally arrives to collect Liesel, she is overcome to hear that he saved her book and asks Death if he read it. Death replies that he has read it many times.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Epilogue