January 26, 2012 | goulds
Dead end in Norvelt by Jack Gantos — justly deserved winning the Newbery. It is an entertaining as well enriching read set in 1962 Norvelt, Pennsylvania — a real place. Indeed, the story is partly autobiographical which is why the main character's name is Jackie Gantos. Jackie is grounded for the summer for doing a couple dumb things. He ends up having to be the "hired hands" for an arthritic elderly neighbor, Miss Volker. As he transcribes the obituaries for the local paper, a sinister pattern begins to emerge — far too many of the town's elderly are dying in rapid succession by bizarre causes. Zany characters and wild escapades are intermixed with fascinating historical facts about not only Norvelt, but renowned figures in world history. By the end of the summer Jackie has made a quantum leap of consciousness on many levels. One realization is that anyone can benefit from studying the past, their own or mankind's. If you remind yourself of the stupid stuff done and the rotten results, you won't want to repeat it. When you can get your hands on it, you will have a memorable, fun, and enlightening reading adventure with this latest work of literary art by Jack Gantos.