The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is a novel of mercilessness, neediness, and trust. Her mother has placed Liesel Meminger, a young girl, in foster care.
In the middle of the night, Liesel experiences nightmares that prevent her from sleeping. On these nights, Hans, her foster father, comes to her rescue and helps her sit up until she is safe enough to sleep. Hans finds the book Liesel stole on one of these nights.
Ilsa, wife of the mayor, is cold and quiet, according to Liesel. However, when the silent woman sees Liesel stealing a forbidden book from a Nazi party bonfire, she becomes afraid of Liesel. Liesel is certain that the woman will discover her and arrest her. Instead, Ilsa lets Liesel use her private library and invites her over to her house. Liesel frequently makes trips to the library, where she spends the afternoon reading as many books as she can.
The Hubermanns, Liesel's foster parents, have been keeping a Jew hidden in their home for this time. Hans promised to do anything for this man's wife and son, so when Max needs a place to hide from the government, Hans opens his home to him. Max Vandenburg is the son of a man Hans credits with saving his life during World War I.
The idea that the Gestapo will come to his house to arrest him and look for Jews who are hiding causes hans to feel afraid. Hans decides that Max must leave. However, the Nazi Party accepts Hans' membership and forces him to join the military rather than arresting him.
Hans breaks his leg in a car accident while performing this duty, and he is sent home. Six months later, a bomb that was dropped on Himmel Street by mistake kills Hans and Rosa. This catastrophe has only left one survivor, Liesel.