March 11, 2012

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

A nostalgic, semi-fictional account of a summer in Jack Gantos' childhood. Twelve-year-old Jack lives in small town Norvelt, Pennsylvania. During the summer of 1962, his grand plans of playing baseball and a carefree summer are dashed when he gets grounded for the entire summer for plowing down his mother's cornfield. Going stir crazy staying in his room, he jumps at the chance to get out when his mother tells him he has to help their elderly neighbor, Mrs. Volker, investigate deaths in the community and write their obituary. Their relationship grows over the summer, as the relationship becomes a bit symbiotic. Expect some humorous plot twists and events, but for me, the book was a bit of a bore. The pacing of the writing, and richness of the characters, doesn't come close to Gantos' Joey Pigza series. Clearly, others feel different, as this is the recipient of the 2012 Newbery Award. I'm sure some of you will enjoy the warm tone, and the gentle humor, but I can only recommend this to those of you who really enjoy nostalgic historical fiction.
Reed Reads Score: 3

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