Thursday, January 21, 2016

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos [Review]

Dead End in Norvelt3.5 out of 5 Robots!

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos
Genre: Middle Grade
Release: September 13, 2011
Hardcover: 341 Pages
Publisher: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux
My Copy: Purchased
Reviewer: Shannon

Book Summary:
Dead End in Norvelt is the winner of the 2012 Newbery Medal for the year's best contribution to children's literature and the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction!
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 mom loans him out to help a feisty old neighbor with a most 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. 

(Courtesy of the Publisher)

Shannon's Thoughts:
I am conflicted on this book.  There were parts I enjoyed and then parts that really put me off.  On one hand, I like quirky character stories and this book is filled with them.  Newbery LOVES a good small town setting with filled with quirky citizens.  My favorite character was Mrs. Volker.  She was kind of a hoot.  Their friendship was very amusing and the best part of the book.

But, there was also a lot of humor that was a little too...macabre for me.  At least, in a Middle Grade setting.  Jack is a boy with a lot of imagination...sometimes gory, sometimes crass.  Hearing about his bloody nose every few pages got old quickly. Also, there are long passages about dead bodies and untimely demises.  My least favorite section involves a story about Jack going hunting with his dad and trying to scare away the deer by farting.  It is a long, graphic story that actually involves the word "anus".  I'm no prude, but I do not want to read about other people's anuses and fart jokes/stories are my least favorite.  

There is also liberal use of the word "Jap".  I know this story is set in 1962 (although written in 2011), but it was very uncomfortable for me to read.  It is finally addressed at the very end, but not resolved.  

So while I enjoyed the overall story, there were some parts that turned me off.  However, 10-12 year old boys may feel differently than me.  I hear they are big fans of fart jokes.  

No comments :

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin