Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos [Review]


The story revolves around 11-year old Jack Gantos and his shenanigans in the decrepit town of Norvelt. He’s been grounded for the whole summer thanks to one of his said antics but his elderly neighbor Miss Volker, the town obituarist, asked him to help her fulfill her lifelong duty to Eleanor Roosevelt. Next thing you know, there are old dead people everywhere, poisons and anesthetics, flames and gunfire, and blood. Lots of blood.

This was actually an alright read even though it has not-so-great reviews. But I think that’s mainly because those who have read it are comparing it to the book’s other competitors for the Newbery Medal back in 2012 (specifically Gary D. Schmidt’s Okay for Now). And I agree. Okay for Now had a different impact on me as well. It made me laugh, cry, and feel the characters’ pain. But Gantos’ Dead End in Norvelt had its moments.

It was full of American history. And I think you could use some of the facts and trivia from this book to impress people at a party and make them think you know a lot about the history of the Land of Liberty. It has an interesting storyline as well, even though it takes place in a seemingly lackluster town. Finally, although Jack’s voice is not that uncommon (quite forgettable actually), I still had a few good laughs and it somehow reminded me of the summers I spent as a young, passive trouble-maker (Haha!)

So if you’re looking for an easy read about the silly adventures of a boy in a tattered town, try this one.

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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