This work is narrated in the all-knowing matter-of-fact voice of Death, witnessing 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' - for ever, 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, her 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 out her books in the air-raid shelters.