This novel is narrated in the all-knowing, matter-of-fact voice of Death, who witnesses the story of the citizens of Molching.
When nine-year-old Liesel arrives outside the boxlike house of her new foster parents at 33 Himmel Street, she refuses to get out of the car. Liesel has been separated from her parents, "Kommunists", forever, and at the burial of her little brother, she steals a gravedigger's instruction manual, which she can't read. It is the beginning of her illustrious career.
In the care of the Hubermans, Liesel befriends blond-haired Rudy Steiner, a neighbour obsessed with Jesse Owens, and the mayor's wife, who hides from despair in her library. Together, Liesel and Rudy steal books - from Nazi book-burning piles, from the mayor's library, from the rich people for whom her foster mother does the ironing. In time, they take in a Jewish boxer, Max, who reads with Liesel in the basement.
By 1943, the Allied bombs are falling, and the sirens begin to wail. Liesel shares her books in the air-raid shelters. But one day in the life of Himmel Street, the wail of the sirens comes too late.
A life-changing tale of the cruel twists of fate and the coincidences on which all our lives hinge, this is also a joyous look at how books can nourish the soul. Its uplifting ending will make listeners weep.