Liesel Meminger is fostered by a family in a small town on the edge of Munich. Her life is peppered with vivid memories of her real family before the war, her struggle to survive Allied bombing raids, and the constant threat of the scrutiny of the Nazi party.
Her mama - Rosa Hubermann - hides her heart beneath a mountain of insults and curses. Her papa - Hans - is a quiet man, who watches and waits, keeping Liesel close and calm. Rudy Steiner, her friend and neighbour, thinks he is the athlete Jessie Owens. So fast, he can outrun even death.
But there are secrets. Liesel has several secrets. From Max in the cellar to her collection of stolen books.
And what about death? Death is our narrator. He sees the horrors of war first hand. He gathers up the souls of Dachau, the Russian front and each bombing raid. Each crop of souls he harvests leaves an impression: a range of colours, but occasionally, every now and again, a human heart touches him. Is The Book Thief one such soul?
Profound, beautiful, moving. Zusak's masterpiece is at once charming, gripping and utterly devastating.