- Age Range: 10 - 14 years
- Grade Level: 7 - 9
- Lexile Measure: 920L (What's this?)
- Series: Norvelt Series (Book 1)
- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR); First edition (September 13, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780374379933
- ISBN-13: 978-0374379933
- ASIN: 0374379939
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 8.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 222 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #95,585 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Dead End in Norvelt (Norvelt Series) Hardcover – September 13, 2011
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“This is a brilliant book, full of history, mystery, and laughs. It reminded me of my small-town childhood, although my small town was never as delightfully weird as Norvelt.” ―Dave Barry
“A bit of autobiography works its way into all of Gantos's work, but he one-ups himself in this wildly entertaining meld of truth and fiction by naming the main character . . . Jackie Gantos.” ―Publishers Weekly, starred review
“A fast-paced and witty read.” ―School Library Journal
“A more quietly (but still absurdly) funny and insightful account of a kid's growth, kin to Gantos's Jack stories, that will stealthily hook even resistant readers into the lure of history.” ―BCCB
“This winning novel, both humorous and heartwarming, takes place during the summer of 1962, when narrator Jack Gantos turns 12 and spends most of his days grounded. Jack's main ‘get out of jail free card,' and one of the novel's most charming characters, is Miss Volker. The blossoming of their friendship coincides with the blooming of Jack's character.” ―Shelf Awareness Pro
“There's more than laugh-out-loud gothic comedy here. This is a richly layered semi-autobiographical tale, an ode to a time and place, to history and the power of reading.” ―The Horn Book, starred review
“Gantos, as always, delivers bushels of food for thought and plenty of outright guffaws.” ―Booklist
“An exhilarating summer marked by death, gore and fire sparks deep thoughts in a small-town lad not uncoincidentally named ‘Jack Gantos.' The gore is all Jack's, which to his continuing embarrassment ‘would spray out of my nose holes like dragon flames' whenever anything exciting or upsetting happens. And that would be on every other page, seemingly . . . Characteristically provocative gothic comedy, with sublime undertones.” ―Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“Nobody can tell a story like Jack Gantos can. And this is a story like no other. It's funny. It's thoughtful. It's history. It's weird. But you don't need me to attempt to describe it. Get in there and start reading Gantos.” ―Jon Scieszka, founder of guysread.com and author of the Spaceheadz series
About the Author
Jack Gantos has written books for people of all ages, from picture books and middle-grade fiction to novels for young adults and adults. His works include Hole in My Life, a memoir that won the Michael L. Printz and Robert F. Sibert Honors; the Joey Pigza series, which include a Newbery Honor book and a National Book Award Finalist; Dead End in Norvelt, winner of the Newbery Medal and the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction; and the Rotten Ralph series.
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As his WWII veteran father returns to home with an army surplus J-3, he asks Jack to mow down his mother's precious cornfield to make a runaway and a bomb shelter. Already on the risk with his gun accident and his overwhelming will to get on board in the plane, Jack mows down the corn and gets into a serious trouble with his mother: grounded for summer. Now, not only he cannot contribute to the baseball team, his only way of escape is by doing chores and helping neighbors.
By helping Mrs. Volker, he had a rather interesting summer. As he helped her, or should I say, typed the obituaries Mrs. Volker spoke to him, he soaked in all the necessary histories about Norvelt and learned to respect history. However, this book is not always peaceful. As all the original Norvelters started to die off in a very quick rate, rumors spread on town of the crazy dance diesis coming back to life to haunt them, or that the town is cursed. This mystery draws Jack deeply into risks of another trouble, and events.
Leaving out the unusual case of frequent nose bloodsheds, Jack is considered a usual boy looking to spend the summer vacation in his own way, enjoying every bits instead of having to have to worry about watch his back every time. This is a very fun book to read, especially for a early-teenager like me. It has enough twists and turns for chapters that every time one cools down, other starts. I tried to listen it in an audio book instead, but it did not work because I had to pause every bits since I was laughing my head off way higher than the audio itself.
Again, highly recommended: you will find yourself/past self as Jack and laugh along as he tries to set things right. ^^
The book is tightly woven from the point of view of a good-natured eleven- (then twelve-) year old boy growing up in the early '60s, a bit used and abused by the adults in his world.
The writing is wonderful, and in my opinion the author's metaphors and similes are often dazzling: "I could see the flames leaping into the air, and the confetti of glowing ash that floated above the flames...[The]blistering flames rising above the house...waving goodbye to everyone who was watching." About old, arthritic Mrs. Volker: "When she finished she plopped down onto her couch like a string puppet that had been cut loose. All her jumbled pieces slumped into herself, and with her forehead pressed against her tucked-up knees she fell into a deep sleep."
The unity of the book is complete, dealing, as it does, with the boy's obsession with death -- his own, the death of the town, the deaths of the town's old people, the death-work of the embalmer....
The main characters and secondary characters including the boy's mother, Mrs. Volker, Bunny, and Mr. Spizz are endearing and funny, and unlikely to be forgotten.
Having said all that, I'm not so sure that this is really a kid's book; at the end, when the mystery is solved, there is no moral payoff. Someone is outed, but there is no real consequences to the person's ill deeds. Life goes on -- or not, actually -- with little shock or horror, whereas the rest of the book deals, humorously, with right vs wrong.
It's really a terrific book, if for adults. The best part is that it's tear-inducing hilarious.
"I really didn't want to sneak into a house and stumble around like the Grim Reaper who had come to harvest Mrs. Dubicki." (p.105)
"I glanced from the table to the orange linoleum floor, which looked like the inside of a grilled cheese sandwich" (p.221)
"She was so short she could run full speed under her dining room table without ducking. I tried it once and nearly decapitated myself." (p.41)
I feel that most middle graders would enjoy reading this story, especially boys. The finale is bit anti-climatic for my liking, but this story has so much character and heart, it more than makes up for this minor fault. Ultimately, it's a story about family and love, wrapped inside of a very funny package :)
Mrs. Volker has arthritis in her hands and can no longer write or type up the obituaries for the Norvelt News. Through the obituaries she tells the history of the deceased. The deceased have recently become the original women of the town of Norvelt. Jack loves this new job since he loves history. He has one problem, if he gets overly excited his nose will begin to bleed. As the elderly women of Norvelt begin to drop like flies, people are beginning to wonder if it is murder. Mrs. Volker examines the bodies and pronounces each death that of natural causes. Not everyone is convinced. Could she be hiding something? This was a wonderful book full of history and lessons that the reader won't mind learning. The mystery was enough to keep you reading, yet not so difficult you couldn't figure it out. Highly recommended reading.