The Book Thief is set in Nazi Germany. Beginning in 1939, it focuses on a German girl, Liesel, who is sent by her mother to live with foster parents in a small town near Munich. As Liesel learns to cope with her new environment, all the pains she has endured, and the extreme unhappiness of pre-war and wartime Germany, she yearns to escape via reading. Her foster father Hans helps her learn to read, and Liesel finds books here and there — in a snowy graveyard, in a Nazi book-burning, and inside the local mayor's house. She has a few friends; first her neighbor and classmate, Rudy, and later the son of a soldier her foster father knew in WWI, Max, a Jew whom her new family must hide in their basement. While the toll of WWII, Allied bombing, and Nazi brutality increases, Liesel's world starts to crumble, but words and reading sustain her.