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The book thief – Markus Zusak

This work was first published in Australia, the author’s native country, in 2005. It is the fifth novel written by Zusak written when he was only thirty years old. Winning a large number of awards, mainly in the Young Adults category, and selling at least a million copies, the novel has monumentally increased the fame of this author.

It took Zusak more than three years to complete the piece and he even went to Munich, Germany to investigate some of the finer points.



The book thief is in the novel category. However, it is listed in the historical novel subcategory. This classification is given thanks to the fact that the story is located in a real historical moment and this context has a broad influence on the development of the plot. It has also been classified as a piece of youth literature. This has more to do with the age of the protagonist, which makes it possible for young people to identify with the way in which they face certain events.

Narrator and characters

The book thief is narrated by a being who is identified as death. Markus Zusak needed a narrator who could provide Liesel’s point of view, but also provide information that she, as a child in a relatively isolated city, would not know.

He needed a narrator who could provide snapshots of World War II off Himmel Street. Zusak could have used a third-person narrator, but by using Death, the author can offer a unique perspective on all the deaths that occur during this historical period.

Main characters

  • Death: This is the narrator of the story. He has a darkly ironic sense of humor, but as the novel progresses, he expresses weariness and remorse at having to gather so many souls.
  • Liesel Meminger: This is the young protagonist of the story. He goes from being an angry and suspicious character to one who deeply loves his family and friends.
  • Hans Hubermann: He is patient and gentle with Liesel, his adoptive daughter, and is the first adult capable of gaining his trust. He enjoys helping others, and he has a deep-rooted sense of justice.
  • Rosa Hubermann: adoptive mother of Liesel. You feel cold and impatient. However, history reveals that under her tough exterior, she is indeed kind and loving.
  • Max Vandenburg: secret tenant of the Hubermann. When he comes to hide he is cautious and withdrawn, then reveals his tremendous anger towards Hitler. He is the one who understands Liesel’s experience the most.
  • Rudy Steiner: This character is Liesel’s best friend. He has many athletic and intellectual talents, he is sensitive and compassionate.
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Title-content relationship

The title most obviously refers to Liesel Meminger, the leading book thief in history. Officially he has been given the title by his best friend Rudy Steiner. Death, our narrator is also a book thief. When Liesel drops her newly completed memories after learning that everyone she meets on Himmel Street has been killed by bomb blasts, death steals the book from a garbage truck.

Summary and Synopsis

Narrated by death, the book thief is the story of Liesel Meminger, a nine-year-old German girl who was abandoned by her mother to live with Hans and Rosa Hubermann in the small town of Molching in 1939, shortly before the Second War. World. On her way to Molching, Liesel’s younger brother Werner dies, and she is traumatized, experiencing nightmares about him for months. Hans is a sweet man who tries to comfort her, and to help her he teaches her to read. The first book they use is one that Liesel stole from the cemetery where her brother was buried.

Liesel befriends a neighborhood boy, Rudy Steiner, who falls in love with her. In a book burn, Liesel realizes that her father was persecuted for being a communist and that his mother was probably killed by the Nazis for the same crime. Ilsa, the mayor’s wife, sees her stealing a book from the burning pile, so he invites her to read in his private library.

To fulfill a promise made to the man who saved his life, Hans agrees to hide a Jew named Max Vandenberg in his basement. Liesel and Max establish a deep friendship relationship. Max writes two stories about their relationship. When Hans publicly gives bread to an old Jew, Max must leave, and Hans is drafted into the army.

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Liesel then sees Max being taken to the concentration camp in Dachau. Liesel loses hope and begins to despise the written word, learning that Hitler’s propaganda is to blame for the war and the Holocaust and the death of her biological family, but Ilsa encourages her to write.

Liesel writes her life story in the Hubermans’ basement, where she miraculously survives an airstrike that kills Hans, Rosa, Rudy, and everyone else on their block. Liesel and Max manage to survive the war. She continues to live a long life and dies at an advanced age.


Words and stories have tremendous value in the novel, suggesting that they are among the most powerful ways people connect with each other. Another important point is how it shows the different degrees of kindness and cruelty of people, from the mildest examples to the most extreme.

Because many of the characters in the novel have lost family members, many struggle with the survivor’s guilt for continuing to live while their loved ones do not.


  • “I have hated words and loved them, and I hope I have lived up to them.”
  • “Is there anything worse than a boy who hates you? A boy who loves you “
  • “Colors first. Then humans. This is how I usually see things. Or, at least, that’s how I try to see them. ”