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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.
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By Rachel - Audible on 10-17-17
A Demented Little Nugget of a Book
I love love LOVE this demented little nugget of a book. No children's writer is more twisted or morbid than Jack Gantos, which is what makes him the BEST. In this Newbery-winning novel, twelve-year-old Jack gets grounded and spends the summer of 1962 helping a feisty old witch write obituaries for all the little old ladies in Norvelt, Pennsylvania, who may or may not be getting slowly poisoned to death. Meanwhile, Hells Angels move in down the road and start burning local houses to the ground, and the next door neighbors start up a funeral parlor. This is a great novel about what it's like to be young, bored, and grounded, and in the funniest scene OF ALL TIME since Barbara Park wrote Skinnybones, Jack describes his method for noiselessly scaring deer away during his dad's hunting trip. (Spoiler: it's farts.) Gantos' deadpan humor translates best when he reads it out loud; I can't recommend the audio highly enough!
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