Sunday, March 4, 2012

Dead End in Norvelt

by Jack Gantos
February 6, 2012

This is the Newbery Medal Winner for 2012 (for the "most distinguished contribution to American Literature for Children" among those book published in 2011).  I listened to the audiobook which is narrated by the author, Jack Gantos.

The only reason I chose the audiobook is that I couldn't get my hands on the print version.  It started out just a little slowly, but quickly hooked me.  I've been telling people that they'd enjoy this if they enjoyed A Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck or Harris and Me by Gary Paulsen.  It's a nostalgic story, in this case of the author's boyhood in a small town in Pennsylvania.  Gantos says that the book isn't completely autobiographical. Parts of it are based on his experiences but it is truly fiction for the most part.

Like life itself, the book is funny, sad, mundane and exciting all at the same time.    Jack Gantos is ready to spend a typical summer in his hometown of Norvelt - named after EleaNOR RooseVELT who founded the town.  But after he's grounded the only opportunity he has to get out of the house is to help the elderly but feisty Miss Volker. His job is to type and deliver the obituaries she writes for the local newspaper.  Jack learns the history of his town and learns about his life and life in general through the adventures he never expected to encounter in such a dead end town.

I especially liked hearing Jack Gantos read this.

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