KDL Recommends > Staff Picks > November 2011
Dead End in Norvelt
Title: Dead End in Norvelt
Author: Jack Gantos
Dead End in Norvelt in Norvelt by Jack Gantos. 12-year-old Jack Gantos spends a summer grounded, but is allowed outside to help an elderly neighbor write obituaries for the local paper. The mystery develops as the senior citizens of Norvelt begin dropping at an alarming rate. The story is humorous, historical, and a little gross, as Jack is prone to bloody noses when his adrenaline kicks in. Definite boy appeal!
-Liz at Gaines
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 fiesty 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 launced 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. Endlessly surprising, this sly, sharp-edged narrative is the author at his very best, making readers laugh out loud at the most unexpected things in a dead-funny depiction of growing up in a slightly off-kilter place where the past is present, the present is confusing, and the future is completely up in the air.