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The Book Thief | Chapter Summaries

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Timeline of Events

  • January 1939

    At her brother's funeral Liesel steals her first book.

    Part 1, Chapter 1
  • Later that day

    Liesel arrives at the Hubermanns' on Himmel Street.

    Part 1, Chapter 1
  • About two weeks later

    Liesel meets the neighborhood kids and becomes friends with Rudy.

    Part 1, Chapter 4
  • Late May 1939

    Hans comforts Liesel during one of her frequent nightmares and begins teaching her to read.

    Part 1, Chapter 6
  • April 20, 1940

    Observed by the mayor's wife, Liesel steals a book from the book burning.

    Part 2, Chapter 8
  • A few weeks later

    The mayor's wife invites Liesel to read in her library.

    Part 3, Chapter 2
  • Spring 1940

    Hans, Rosa, and Liesel hide Max Vandenburg in their cellar.

    Part 4, Chapter 1
  • February 1941

    Max writes The Standover Man as a gift to Liesel.

    Part 4, Chapter 8
  • June 24, 1941

    After Rosa is fired, Liesel argues with the mayor's wife.

    Part 5, Chapter 2
  • Autumn 1941

    Liesel steals a book from the mayor's house.

    Part 5, Chapter 6
  • Spring 1942

    The Nazis inspect the Hubermanns' cellar but don't find Max.

    Part 6, Chapter 6
  • August 1942

    Liesel steals another book from the mayor's library.

    Part 7, Chapter 2
  • Early autumn 1942

    Because Hans tries to help another Jew, Max must leave.

    Part 7, Chapter 6
  • November 1942

    Hans and Rudy's father are drafted into the German army.

    Part 8, Chapter 3
  • January 1943

    Liesel steals another book but also talks to the mayor's wife.

    Part 9, Chapter 1
  • August 1943

    Liesel sees Max being taken to Dachau and is beaten for making contact.

    Part 10, Chapter 4
  • Later in August 1943

    Liesel decides not to visit the mayor's house again and begins writing her own book.

    Part 10, Chapter 6
  • Autumn 1943

    Bombs hit Himmel Street, killing all residents except Liesel.

    Part 10, Chapter 8
  • The next day

    The mayor and Frau Hermann invite Liesel to live with them.

    Epilogue
  • October 1945

    Max and Liesel are reunited when Max returns to Molching.

    Epilogue

Chapter Summaries Chart

Chapter Summary
Prologue, Chapters 1–3 Death introduces himself, describing what happens when he takes a soul. He indicates people usually notice a color whe... Read More
Part 1, Chapters 1–4 Part 1 is called "the grave digger's handbook" after the first book Liesel steals. In this first chapter nine-year-old... Read More
Part 1, Chapters 5–8 In a flashback to the 1936 Olympics, Rudy, who idolizes Jesse Owens, darkens his skin with charcoal, sneaks out of the... Read More
Part 2, Chapters 1–4 As Part 2 begins, Death states that 463 days go by between Liesel's first stolen book and her second, the later theft ... Read More
Part 2, Chapters 5–8 On Hitler's birthday Hans seems uneasy. He argues with his son, who has come home for the celebration. Definitely not ... Read More
Part 3, Chapters 1–4 As Part 3 begins, Liesel and Hans are about halfway home when he discovers the stolen book. Hans seems upset or lost i... Read More
Part 3, Chapters 5–8 Rudy and Liesel find a single pfennig on the ground and use it to buy one piece of candy from Frau Diller. They take t... Read More
Part 4, Chapters 1–4 Max's appearance at the Hubermanns' house leads Death to explain how he got there. Hans survived World War I because o... Read More
Part 4, Chapters 5–8 Max has to sleep in Liesel's room because he's exhausted. Hans and Rosa keep Liesel home from school the next day. Han... Read More
Part 5, Chapters 1–4 Rudy jumps into the river to retrieve a book. He asks Liesel to give him a kiss for saving it. Death pauses the story ... Read More
Part 5, Chapters 5–8 Max uses the painted-over pages from Mein Kampf to write brief thoughts and create illustrations. One drawing shows a ... Read More
Part 6, Chapters 1–4 Death complains about the year 1942 in which humans kept him very busy. He refers to the war and the concentration cam... Read More
Part 6, Chapters 5–8 Death describes visiting the city of Cologne as it is under attack. Young girls make a game of spotting discarded fuel... Read More
Part 7, Chapters 1–4 The increasing risk of air raids brings work for Hans, as he paints out people's windows. Liesel helps, and on one occ... Read More
Part 7, Chapters 5–8 Frau Holtzapfel offers to pay Liesel to come to her house to read to her. Liesel determines it was two weeks of readin... Read More
Part 8, Chapters 1–4 Two men arrive to recruit Rudy into a special program for future Nazi soldiers and leaders. Rudy thinks back to the da... Read More
Part 8, Chapters 5–8 Alex Steiner is sent to Austria to mend damaged uniforms, a safe job, or as safe as any job during a war. Hans is assi... Read More
Part 9, Chapters 1–4 On her next stealing trip Liesel finds stale Christmas cookies—and the mayor's wife—waiting for her. As she steals a b... Read More
Part 9, Chapters 5–8 One day Zucker announces he wants Hans's seat in the back of the LSE truck. Hans switches seats with him to avoid a pe... Read More
Part 10, Chapters 1–4 Death tells the reader about the end of the book, either to prepare the reader or to prepare himself; he isn't sure wh... Read More
Part 10, Chapters 5–8 With the Jews gone Liesel goes to the train station to wait for Max. She won't talk to Rudy, so he fetches Rosa. Hans,... Read More
Epilogue Death tells the reader that Liesel just died after a long life. She married and had children and grandchildren, but sh... Read More
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