In Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, Death narrates the story of Liesel Meminger, a young German girl growing up in foster care during World War II. On the day her brother dies of tuberculosis, Liesel finds a copy of The Grave Digger’s Handbook, and is fascinated by its contents. The Holocaust has thrown Europe into desolation, to the point that even Death is horrified at the increased breadth of his job. During these tumultuous and hungry years, Liesel and her friend Rudy must resort to stealing food, though Liesel undoubtedly values her books over meals. Meanwhile, the young book thief befriends the mayor’s grieving wife, Illsa Hermann, and their clandestine friendship grows stronger over the course of the war, as Liesel pretends to follow the rules imposed on the townspeople, while secretly rebelling. Later, Liesel’s compassionate foster father takes in a young Jewish refugee, Max Vandenburg, who eventually survives a concentration camp, while the family who sheltered him dies in a bombing. Liesel, the sole survivor of the bombing, ends up in the care of Illsa. Throughout the novel, Liesel deals with the complexity of the written word, how language can be at once beautiful and horrifyingly destructive in its manipulative power, and she ends up writing her own story in retaliation. Readers will be riveted by Zusak’s complex portrait of a compassionate German who bravely defied and resisted the Nazis, a portrait made all the more moving by the supporting characters that layer The Book Thief.