The story returns to just after the bombing of Molching. Liesel was the only survivor of Himmel Street, and she is taken to the police clinging to Hans's accordion. Three hours later the mayor gets her in a car, and Liesel sits in the back with Frau Hermann. At the mayor's house, Liesel talks to herself often and eats little. She refuses to bathe for the funerals, as the ash from the bombings still connects her to the victims. Later she walks into the Amper River where Rudy rescued her book, saying another goodbye to her best friend.
Liesel refusing to bathe and then walking into the river shows that she feels (like so many of the other characters) a responsibility to those who have died. She will remember and honor the beloved dead, but she must take Ilsa's advice and "not punish herself." Ilsa returns as a last friend and comforting presence, the embodiment of her own library.
A few months later Liesel returns to Himmel Street to look for her books, but there is nothing but rubble. Alex Steiner returns home from the war and wishes he had sent Rudy away to the Nazi school. Liesel tells him about how she kissed Rudy's body.
The irony that Alex had accidentally condemned Rudy to die by trying to save him is not lost on Death or Alex himself. The randomness of fate and war seems especially cruel. Yet in Liesel's story of kissing Rudy there is some love in his death as well, some sharing of love between the father and the girl who loved his son.