Monday, July 23, 2012

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

This is a Newbery-winning book, and I gave it a rating of four out of five. Jack Gantos lives in the small town of Norvelt, located somewhere in Pennsylvania in 1962. The town was founded by Eleanor Roosevelt, and Jack's neighbor, Miss Volker, is the town's medical examiner and is also in charge writing obituaries for the original residents of the town. Jack writes and types them for her, and he has a special interest in the history she adds to the obituaries. Jack has time for this job, since he's grounded for the summer for firing his dad's Japanese, souvenir rifle. He manages to get himself into more trouble despite the grounding and discovers some secrets along the way.

The different chapters almost read like short stories, although the plot moved along through the summer. History was a large part of the plot as Jack's dad was a World War II veteran and had Jack digging a bomb shelter as part of his punishment. Miss Volker was a very entertaining character, and Jack learned a lot from her during his visits. In the end, the reader will discover who put the bullet in the rifle fired by Jack and that there was a murder mystery hidden within the plot.

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