Friday, July 27, 2012

Dead End in Norvelt

By Jack Gantos

 Melding the entirely true and the wildly fictional, Dead End in Norvelt is a novel about an incredible two months for a kid named Jack Gantos, whose plans for vacation excitement are shot down when he is “grounded for life” by his feuding parents, and whose nose spews bad blood at every little shock he gets. But plenty of excitement (and shocks) are coming Jack’s way once his mother loans him out to help a feisty old neighbor with an unusual chore—typewriting obituaries filled with stories about the people who founded his utopian town. As one obituary leads to another, Jack is launched on a strange adventure involving molten wax, Eleanor Roosevelt, twisted promises, a homemade airplane, Girl Scout cookies, a man on a trike, a dancing plague, voices from the past, Hells Angels…and possibly murder.

This book was fun to read...a little difficult to continue to read simply because I wasn't used to reading this genre. It's a creative take on non-fiction of the author's life in the small town of Norvelt, founded by first lady Roosevelt herself. This book is pretty hilarious in a lot of different ways. Jack has a best friend who happens to be a tom-boyish girl that lives in a funeral parlor. He often gets stuck between his Mom and Dad, who tell him to do opposite things, and then he gets grounded 'forever' for obeying one over the other. Not only that, but Jack gets nosebleeds whenever he gets stressed, so even if he wanted to lie about some things he can't without the dead giveaway of blood all over his shirt. The fun of this story is that I can see it all is infinitely more strange than we believe until we look back at our experiences. My favorite part is when this little old lady thinks Jack is the Grim Reaper and asks him to come back next week! Great fun to read.

I give it a 3 1/2 out of 5

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