Liesel is nine years old, almost ten, at the start of the novel. She is about fifteen toward the end of the novel when the bombs destroy her home and kill her loved ones. The novel ends when she is an old woman and Death comes to collect her soul. Liesel is the book thief. At the start of her story, Liesel is without words and cannot read. She understands that there is great power in words, though, and she hungers for them. She reads with her Papa and visits Frau Hermann in her library, one of the greatest places Liesel has ever seen. She also reads to those around her in the basement when there are air raids. Books become a source of comfort for herself and for those around her. She loves how words can fill her up, but then she also realizes that words can be ugly things, especially in the way Hitler can use words to encourage the German people to carry out horrific acts of violence and cause so much suffering. She realizes, too, that these same words are responsible for taking her mother and her brother away, and for Max's having to hide in the basement. Sometimes, she hates words and wishes she could be without them, but she goes on to write her own story, hoping that she can find the right words to tell her tale.