The Book Thief

10 events that are important to the plot of the novel


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The death of Liesel's brother- This starts the story, sparking Liesel's nightmares, which ultimately bring Liesel and Hans closer together. It also starts her love of book thievery when she picks up The Grave Digger's Handbook when he was buried.

Liesel's arrival on Himmel Street- Obviously, this sets the stage for the rest of the book, and we meet some of the most important characters, Hans and Rosa Hubermann.

Liesel's early failure in school- This is what truly makes her determined to learn to read

The book burning on Hitler's birthday- This is when Hans discovers that Liesel is stealing books, giving him the idea of buying Mein Kampf to send to Walter Kugler in order to aid Max Vandenburg in the safe passage from his hiding place in Stuttgart to Himmel Street.

The arrival of Max Vandenburg on Himmel Street- Max changes the Hubermann's lives when he arrives on their doorstep in 1940. Hiding a Jew in their basement puts Hans, Rosa, and Liesel in immense danger, but also brings Liesel one of the best friends she could possibly hope for.

Max writing The Standover Man for Liesel- Not only is this a touching story that really starts to bring Max and Liesel closer together, but it also begins the idea of sharing words, rather than just reading them.

The Word Shaker- Because it deserves a place on every list. Even lists about fruit. Or shoes.

Hans handing bread to the Jew- This leads to Max's departure and Hans being sent away from his family to fight in the war, which brings out a lot about the character of Rosa Hubermann, proving how much she actually loves her husband.

The Jessie Owens Incident- This is really how Rudy exemplifies the views of the main characters of the book. Despite his perfect Aryan features, Rudy believes in equality, idolizing a black man in a world where everyone must look and think the same.

Nazis recruiting Rudy- The Nazis notice Rudy's mental and physical capacities and consequently call on the Steiner household to recruit him to go away to school to become the perfect German. His parents refuse, and Alex Steiner is sent to war, allowing him to survive when Himmel Street is bombed.

Max's march to Dachau- The day when Liesel and Max are briefly reunited when Max is in a long line of Jews marching through Molching is one of the most memorable scenes in the book. It shows that love that can overcome the hatred present in Nazi Germany through the acts of Liesel, Max, and Rudy.

The book floating in the Amper River- Rudy retrieves the book for Liesel, and for the last time, asks her for a kiss. Her constant rejection hurt him so much that he simply couldn't ask anymore. When Rudy died, this was one of the moments Liesel remembered clearest and caused her the most anguish, as she wished she could have kissed him then.

Frau Hermann giving Liesel the book to write in- This book was, in the context of the story, the reason we even had a story. Liesel worked tirelessly writing The Book Thief and that's ultimately what saved her life in the end.

The bombing of Himmel Street- Obviously.

The collection of Liesel's soul- Death said that when he collected her, she was sitting up, just like Hans did when he died. This shows that even though about sixty years had passed since she'd lived on Himmel street, the people she encountered stayed with her for the rest of her life and every soul she encountered had an affect on hers.