The Book Thief by Markus Zusak -- 550 pages
During World War II, Liesel Meminger goes to live with people she's never met. On the train ride there, her only brother dies. With her new Papa's help, Liesel learns to read, and she learns the beauty and value of words.
Her best friend, Rudy, pesters her for a kiss. Her Papa plays an accordion. Her Mama uses her tongue worse than a sailor. A Jew shows up on the door step, nearly collapsing from exhaustion. And Liesel steals books.
Markus Zusak has mastered his words. Every word is deep and beautiful. His characters each have such a strong personality that you get to feel as if you know each one as well as you know yourself.